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Thursday, July 20, 2006

Cemeteries and Politics

Nationalcemamd On Tuesday I saw Christina Wells deliver an important paper on the constitutional law implications of 38 USC 2413, which restricts protests at Arlington Cemerty (or any other National Cemetery).  Pretty interesting stuff going on there.  Congress wanted to preserve the dignity of funerals.  (The background here is that some people protest at funerals of soldiers killed in Iraq and they say things along the lines of, the war is retribution for the United States' tolerance of gays.  Congress is trying to preserve the dignity of the funerals by prohibiting protests on cemetery property and near them, as well.)  Another chapter in the growing body of cemetery law....

I’ve written before that one of the things I love about Tuscaloosa is our local paper, the Tuscaloosa News.  It has charming stories of local interest, often about cemeteries and monument law.  Here is part of a letter to the editor to the Tuscaloosa News 4A (August 23, 2005), about the Tuscaloosa Mayor’s race, in which the author of the letter emphasizes . . . cemetery preservation:

The candidates for mayor are all honorable men. . . . I don’t know the candidates up close and personal; hence, I devised a personal litmus test.  I called each and left my name and number on their answering machines, after explaining I had a question about the unkempt and overgrown black Tuscaloosa cemeteries.  All other attributes being essentially equal, I will vote for and urge support for Walter Maddox, who told me that, if elected, he would clean the cemeteries and bill the owner(s) and continue doing it until the issue is settled.

Look for more talk about cemeteries and monuments.  As we grow increasingly conscious of our history, concern about cemetery preservation will grow as well.

Endnote: The image, "National Cemetery, path to statue "At Rest", Antietam, MD," is from the Library of Congress' website.  The original in the Loeb Library, Harvard University Graduate School of Design.

Alfred L. Brophy
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