Cemeteries play an important role within various religious communities, each with its own beliefs, customs and practices. Beyond a religious significance and the underlying respect for those already buried there, why are cemeteries and more importantly the burial that takes place, such integral part of society?
For some, a cemetery provides a place for the respectful disposition of a body, as well as a physical location in which to grieve or remember a loved one or friend. For others, a cemetery provides a common place in which to erect a memorial to the life or accomplishments of our friends and family. But it goes beyond that.
When we inter someone in a cemetery, certain information is recorded and files are created. This information becomes a permanent piece of history which can often times be accessed decades, even centuries later, this information is one way in which history is recorded. A simple headstone or monument erected on a family lot can act as a gateway to the past for a child visiting the grave of his or her great-great grandparents.
As the director of an active cemetery I have helped countless people searching for information on family members, some of the information I was able to provide was on persons that were not even buried in our cemetery. All of the information was actually public information but because it was recorded in a central location and associated with a specific person or family, it was much more accessible and had an enhanced value to the family.
This is the very information used when trying to: find a grave; do an online cemetery search; participate in genealogy research and various other queries.
So the next time you pass a cemetery, take a moment to consider the rich history and accomplishments of those that have gone before us and are memorialized within those gates.