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Letters: Readers react to grave-decoration controversy

Friday, April 1, 2011

To The Editor:

The recent controversy surrounding our beloved Lone Oak Cemetery has compelled me to reach out to our community and express my sincere belief on a subject that is dear to my heart. Since my earliest memories Lone Oak has been a place of peace, reverence and great beauty - truly a treasure to our community and a place of dignity in which to respectfully inter our loved ones.

In recent years I think it has deteriorated somewhat because of a lack of uniformity and a sense of clutter. The lack of harmony in the decoration of the graves has made it less peaceful and serene. Perhaps our decorations need to be more in line with how we decorate our churches.

Grief is a personal journey and a private process that we must all work through alone and in our own way. But I would like to suggest that a cemetery is not the place for toys, sports equipment, or the like, to reflect our loves one's special interest. But it should be a revered place of elegance and grace, a place of great beauty and peace.

What could be a more fitting and beautiful tribute than a lovely floral decoration to show honor and love for our dearly departed?

What better way is there than our American Flag to honor our heroes who paid the ultimate price in protecting our freedoms? These brave souls preserved the very freedoms that allow us to share our opinions freely and in an open forum such as this.

I feel that there is no need for name calling for those who differ in their opinions, but that we respectfully reach out to one another with the dignity the deceased deserve.

I encourage each of you to drive through Lone Oak Cemetery today as it has been almost completely restored to the natural beauty and elegance of my childhood memories. We can only continue to achieve this by keeping symmetry and consistency in our design and by working together.

It would probably be unwise to remove the outlines in some of the older sections as it would no doubt cause erosion from the soil that has built up over the years and could damage the graves. But there is no such problem in the new section.

I have had several floral arrangements disappear from the grave sites of my loved ones over the years but do not hold the cemetery management responsible for the vagrant behavior of a selfish few. Although we have not always agreed over the years, I have consistently found the property management employees of Lone Oak Cemetery to be professional, practical, competent and above all compassionate. I will continue to contribute to the cemetery association with gratitude for the outstanding job they have done and continue to do with the professional landscape services hired. I remain appreciative for their continuing to care for and nurture this beautiful resting place for so many of our loved ones.

Gwen Coble Whitaker

Lewisburg

To The Editor:

What has happened to our community, or maybe I should say our city?

There are many of us who are very upset over the new rules at out Lone Oak Cemetery.

Our family and friends worked hard and bought lots to be buried in.

It has been a beautiful cemetery and many people drive through it on Decoration Day to see the beauty.

Some people have decided to take personal items from our families' graves because it doesn't seem to be in accordance with their rules.

When we put items on the base, or hang solar lights, small birdhouses, wind chimes, etc. on shepherd hooks, it is a way of helping us deal with our grief over loved ones.

When we were stopped, it really hurt. If anyone doesn't understand dealing with grief, then they need to think long and hard about it.

Evidently, they have never driven through there about dusky dark and saw the peaceful sight of the solar lights.

I fail to understand how a solar light, wind chimes, etc. is wrong, but a basket of flowers on that same hook is OK. Does this make any sense?

I know the cemetery is very hard to mow because my son worked there in the summer when he was in school.

I urge anyone who feels this way to attend the city council meetings and call the people on the cemetery committee and attend their meetings.

The next city council meeting is April 12 at 5:50 p.m.

Beth Harwell

Lynchburg

To The Editor:

I was born and grew up in Lewisburg. I raised my three children in Lewisburg and I have always had my home in Lewisburg. So, I have very strong feelings about my hometown.

My husband and my son are buried at Lone Oak Cemetery and I will be there someday myself. My stone is already up there. I definitely care about how the cemetery looks. The city has always taken good care of Lone Oak and it is always neatly mowed.

However, things have gotten a little crazy out there in recent years, with basketball hoops, and huge stuffed fish, Halloween decorations and other holiday decorations on graves. These are not for those we've buried, but for those who are living. They need to "get over it."

This is so disrespectful to those who have family members out there and who do not share in the eccentric taste of those who like to decorate graves. If you junk up your yard, I may have to move. I cannot move those who will be at rest at Lone Oak forever.

Have a little respect for those of us who want the cemetery to look nice, well manicured and without tacky decorations. Just as an un-kept yard or property depreciates a neighborhood, so does this decoration of graves.

What's next? If someone loves fainting goats when they were alive, would we let them put a large statue of a fainting goat on their grave?

Also, I'd like to say to those who have over the last 10 years stolen flowers off my family's graves, please buy your own and leave other peoples' flowers alone. Thank you.

Evelyn Smith Teague

Lewisburg

To The Editor:

With regards to the latest hoo-brah over Lone Oak Cemetery, let me first do something I don't often do - applaud the efforts of our city politicians, for example, our mayor and a few of her councilmen. They tried to correct a situation that has, over the past 10 or so years, gotten slowly, but steadily, out of hand.

Those of us who have burial plots there do not actually own the land. There is no title vested by warranty deed. We do not pay property taxes, nor are we actually required to even use the plots. Some of us purchased our rights of interment there. Others, like me, inherited our plots from our parents and grandparents. We therefore have a duty to refrain from tackying-up the premises.

Traditions were established by ancestors who, we, their descendants, have a sacred and honored duty to uphold. Lone Oak has a unique heritage that seems to grow every year.

For example, the annually profuse and utterly beautiful blooming of the Lone Oak Peonies. Each Easter -- Mother's Day, Decoration-Day -- season brings forth one of God's many magnificent displays of nature. People come from literally miles to see a couple million, in (my estimate) white, pink, and red peony blooms.

Years ago, the city took over the maintenance of Lone Oak. Mowing was done almost weekly by city employees, usually summer-hire teenage boys. Due to fiscal constraints on the city's coffers, they have had to resort to inmate labor from the county jail. I have no problem with either source.

But, they shouldn't have to stop their mowers and/or trimmers to move and then replace some object of sentimentality placed there by some good-hearted person, who is considering only their own feelings.

If our city is compelled to replace and allow trinkets that are slowly turning an otherwise beautiful garden of stone into an eyesore comparable to a flea market or a yard sale, then they should make no effort to maintain these particular plots. Just let the grass and weeds grow and then cite the persons responsible for the mess into court and levy appropriate fines. I greatly fear someone is going to decide that their aunt Suzie wanted some pink plastic flamingos standing watch over her remains.

There are rules posted that have been in effect for decades. Enforce them.

While several persons very close to me share my views, they do not necessarily, endorse my choice of wording.

Thomas A. (Drew) Davidson

Lewisburg