Memorial Day weekend is a time set aside to remember and honor those who gave their lives in the service of our country. Originally, it was called Decoration Day and had its origins during the Civil War era. In my husband’s hometown of South Bend, Indiana it still is called Decoration Day by many people and also is a time when people visit cemeteries where family members are buried, clean up around the grave sites, and leave flowers or other mementos to decorate the graves.
Although we moved away from South Bend many years ago, we were back this year for a visit during Memorial Day weekend , and we honored the tradition of decorating family members’ graves. Our daughter, son-in-law and grandson were with us, and we all trooped through three cemeteries, each progressively older than the previous one, to find family grave sites.
Finding my husband’s parents’ graves at the St. Joseph Valley Memorial Park in Granger, IN was relatively easy, as we had been there many times before.
Three-year-old grandson B. helped prepare the site for the urn that would hold the flowers.
B. and his mom then placed flowers in the urn to honor her grandparents (his great-grandparents).
Our second cemetery visit was to the Bowman Cemetery in South Bend.
My husband’s grandparents on his father’s side are buried here, but hubby could not remember where in the 6-acre site the graves were to be found. We decided to “divide and conquer,” as surely one of us would find the graves. Hubby himself was successful.
The final visit proved to be the most difficult. The South Bend City Cemetery was established in 1832, just west of the downtown area in what was once a very nice neighborhood. The street leading to the main entrance is today a small side street, hard to find and difficult to maneuver in a vehicle. Our rented SUV barely made it into the cemetery, and the area between graves, where cars are meant to drive, clearly was not made for large vehicles. Over 50 years had passed since my husband had visited this cemetery, and he had only a vague memory of the location of the graves we were seeking. We gave up once, piled back into the car and left, only to return at our son-in-law’s insistence. Driving around the outer perimeter of the cemetery until my husband recognized a small walk-through gate, we re-entered and found the graves of hubby’s grandfather (with whom he had been very close while growing up,) his great-grandparents, and other family members, all of whom had immigrated to America from Germany in the late 1800s.