Tuesday, July 17, 2012

So Why Have I Been Hanging Out in Cemeteries?

It's a new volunteer effort that I'm trying out, with an organization known as Find a Grave. Findagrave.com's mission is to create an on-line database of burial plots around the world, through the work of volunteers. It currently holds 83 million memorial records. Many of those records simply include the name, dates of birth and death, and the name and location of the cemetery. I have volunteered to be a photo volunteer. Some photo volunteers actually take on an entire cemetery, and create a record with a photo for every grave. Others, like myself, respond to requests for headstone photos, coming from family, friends, or those interested in locating graves of their ancestors.

When I read some of the touching stories of folks who were so grateful to have a visual record of their ancestor or loved one's final resting place, I thought, "That's something I could do!"

I started last week. So far I have responded to three requests. Two of those I have completed, and I'm still searching for the third.

I enjoy my excursions. Yesterday, for instance, I drove about six miles out of town to a very old country cemetery. It was peaceful and quiet; the birds were singing; there were beautiful old trees; and some of the inscriptions on the stones were fascinating. It was really rewarding to locate the stone for which I was searching. After posting the photo to findagrave.com, I got a very nice thank you email back from the requester.

A nice side-benefit: It gets me outside for a little exercise.

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