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In 1983 President Ronald Reagan said, “Memorial Day is a time to take stock of the present, reflect on the past, and renew our commitment to the future of America.” A federal holiday to commemorate the enormous sacrifice of the men and women who gave their lives in defense of this nation, Memorial Day also calls us to reflect on our own lives, to take stock of the many blessings we have and to remember we owe much to our brave soldiers, many of whom are now in harms way in Iraq, Afghanistan and throughout other areas of the world.
Inspired by our responsibility to recognize the ultimate sacrifice of our military men and women, Memorial Day is a time when families from all walks of life visit the final resting place of a loved one buried at one of our Catholic cemeteries. In fact, the Memorial Day weekend continues to be one of the busiest times of year for the Catholic Cemetery Association of the Archdiocese of Boston as families visit the gravesite of their beloved deceased with bouquets of flowers and fond remembrances.
For many, burying our dead is a dizzying time of details colliding with a flood of emotions. Most Catholics follow a standard ritual when it comes to burying their beloved dead: the wake, the Mass, and the graveside interment service followed by a reception for family and friends to gather for the last time to celebrate the life of the deceased. In today’s world, with its fast-paced lifestyles, seldom does there seem adequate time to reflect back with love for those we have lost.
In 2000 President Bill Clinton issued a memorandum titled, “White House Program for the National Moment of Remembrance.” It stated that that “Memorial Day represents one day of national awareness and reverence, honoring those Americans who died while defending our Nation and its values.” President Clinton called on every American to silently reflect on the lives of our brave military. In many ways, this calls each of us to take stock, as President Reagan said, to think about what is truly important in our own lives and to ponder the many blessings we received by simply being a part of the lives of our beloved deceased.
At the Catholic Cemetery Association we want these moments to provide comfort for families. So we do our very best to make certain our cemeteries reflect the commitment we have to care for our deceased by providing the most aesthetically pleasing cemeteries possible. We want everyone who visits one of our cemeteries to have a sense of peace knowing that their loved ones, regardless of when they were buried, are being cared for properly on these sacred grounds.
To that end, we focus extensively during the month of May on maintenance and landscaping. Our dedicated labor force is busy loaming and seeding graves, pouring foundations for new monuments, planting flowers at entranceways, performing tree maintenance, repairing roadways, and generally making our cemeteries as beautiful as possible. Also we have a new garden mausoleum at Holy Cross Cemetery in Malden as well as new grave sections at several of our cemeteries that we hope will give our Catholic families more options when purchasing a grave or mausoleum crypt.
Understanding the significant increase in visitors we anticipate, our cemeteries will be staffed throughout the Memorial Day weekend to offer any assistance in locating graves and answer any questions you may have. Because of this increased traffic, it is also good to remember, regardless of what cemetery you are visiting this weekend, to lock your vehicle and secure any valuables in your trunk.
Finally, the Catholic Cemetery Association offers Memorial Day Mass at several of our cemeteries. Please feel free to contact us at 781-322-6300, or reference our Web site at www.ccemetery.org for times, date and directions and to learn more about cemetery guidelines pertaining to monuments and the like.
On behalf of the Catholic Cemetery Association of the Archdiocese of Boston, we offer our prayers and deep gratitude to all the brave men and women who have given their lives in the call of duty. We honor their memory and we pray for their families as they continue to mourn their loss during this Memorial Day Weekend.
Rob Visconti executive director of Catholic Cemetery Association for the Archdiocese of Boston.