Monday, December 1, 2008

Tombstone Shadow

You can learn a lot in a graveyard. For example, if you didn't know that Roslyn, Washington was once a mining town, you would after seeing the tombstone whose epitaph read simply "Killed In A Mine."

Yesterday, we drove over the Snoqualmie Pass to Roslyn to visit its cemetery, a veritable necropolis of neighborhoods that is on the National Register of Historic Places. The cemetery has an Old Town, where town's original residents lie. Lodges like the I. O. O. F. and the Red Men have private grounds, a testimony to hub of Roslyn social life. There's even an area for Druids, although we couldn't tell exactly what was meant by that. Perhaps another lodge?

You learn that the original settlers were of English descent and that a wave of Italians arrived early on to quarry the mines. Later generations of Italian-Americans formed a lodge of their own. You discover that a lethal sickness spread through Roslyn's newborns in 1902. You can tell when a close-knit family stayed for generations. We saw many instances of new markers on old graves, like one for John Foster who passed away in 1892.

After World War II, the town set up a veteran's cemetery to honor any Roslyn dweller who had served in the armed forces (see above). Walking through this bit of ground, you aren't surprised to discover later that migration of Croats moved to town after the turn of the century and worked the mines: The names of perhaps as many of 20% of Rosalyn's World War II veterans ends in "-vich."

You're also reminded of thea great national effort called World War II. There are a few graves of WW I vets, and fewer still from Korea and Vietnam. Even given the relative recency of the latter conflicts, you remain struck by the dedication of Americans to winning World War II. It wasn't really The Good War -- what war is? -- but it had a purpose that the public rallied behind and sacrificed for. You see that among the rows patriots' graves, many of them first- or second-generation Americans living in a remote part of the country who nonetheless gave the "last full measure of devotion." We owe it to them to stay out of the Vietnams and the Iraqs, a sad lesson that we can't seem to learn...

Note: I would have posted a couple more pictures were it not for Blogspot's unconscionable slowness today...

Neal Gabler writes that today's conservatism sprang from Joe McCarthy, not Barry Goldwater:
McCarthyism is usually considered a virulent form of Red-baiting and character assassination. But it is much more than that. As historian Richard Hofstadter described it in his famous essay, "The Paranoid Style in American Politics," McCarthyism is a way to build support by playing on the anxieties of Americans, actively convincing them of danger and conspiracy even where these don't exist.
Don't miss David Barstow's investigation into the business dealings of NBC News military analyst General Barry McCaffrey (Ret'd.) It seems that General McCaffrey regularly provides favorable reports on aspects of the Iraq War that most impact defense contractors for whom he lobbies and in at least one case has a financial stake in. And guess what? He doesn't bother to disclose these connections to NBC News viewers. Not that he should, because after all, "...the country knows me as a nonpartisan and objective national security expert with solid integrity...” Believe me, General, that's only because the country hasn't read Barstow's article...

Yankees' fans, you may have 26 rings, but I'll bet you don't have one of these:

And while we're on the subject, here's the Credence Clearwater Revival playing "Tombstone Shadow:"


Sylvia K said...

It is interesting to wander through old cemetaries. I loved the ones in New Orleans and in Savannah and Boston.

K. said...

Have you been to the Auburn cemetery in Boston? The one with Longfellow's grave?

Cowtown Pattie said...

My favorite pasttime! Cemetery discoveries!

I take lots of pictures, love fascinating old headstones (and new).

I wonder if the more popular method of cremation has begun to lessen the historical contributions to cemeteries?

That would be sad. (no word play intended)