Confession: I’m a hick. I come from a very small town. We’re talking less than twenty people in my high school graduating class. In fact, I think it was less than fifteen. (It’s been quite some time since I graduated – the memory is kind of fuzzy)

Why am I telling you this? I think it will help put the following rant into context.

The Patrick Cemetery in Madison County, Arkansas is a special place for me. My grandparents are buried there. Some of my ancestors are among the first to be buried in this cemetery. In recent years beloved family members have been interred in this hallowed ground. Most recently, my father.

I take care of my dad’s grave. I put new flowers and decorations on it every month. I’ve mulched it to keep grass from growing. My hope was the mowers would work around the grave, leaving it undisturbed. My relatives do the same for their mothers, fathers and children. A great deal of time and a considerable amount of money goes into keeping the appearance of the graves fitting monuments to the ones we loved so well.

Recently, the cemetery was mowed and all the flowers were removed from the graves. My father’s escaped the desecration because it hasn’t sunk adequately to get a mower over it. In my opinion, it was wrong of the cemetery board to issue the instruction to remove the flowers.

This is a public cemetery. The board is responsible for letting the public know of all decisions made about the cemetery. In recent years, the board’s agenda has become secretive. It’s to the point that they no longer hold the annual meeting during the yearly decoration and do not announce in the newspaper when the meeting is scheduled. They have taken on the cloak of a single authoritarian party no longer taking the people’s wishes into consideration.

I’m angry.

Let’s be clear. Those graves that aren’t taken care of, that become overrun with weeds and are no longer kept tidy should be mowed and trimmed. But, when you remove hundreds of dollars worth of flowers from a grave that is obviously well tended, to find dirt, no grass, you’ve just desecrated that grave and there are laws against such actions.

Yes. I am angry. It’s time to take action. It’s time to stop the train leading the Patrick Cemetery toward a place where arbitrary rules override the wishes of the public.

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