|Final resting place of Elmer Lee Faulker, American Hero|
Saint Johnstown Cemetery, Greenwood, Delaware
Some have questioned why I roam cemeteries and take photos of gravestones. I have wondered myself.
The one thing I know is that I always experience a sense of peace and tranquility when I am in a cemetery. That perhaps sounds morbid to some and triggers smart assed wisecracks in others. Those uninformed and ignorant remarks roll off of my like water off of a duck's back. I know what I know and the older I get the less I care what others think of me or what I do that brings me a sense of peace.
|My Find a Grave.com posting for PFC Elmer Lee Faulker|
A few years ago a website called Find a Grave.com took off. This website was originally started to find graves of the famous and infamous. However, it quickly became a very popular website for recording all graves, famous and non-famous. It has also become a very valuable tool for genealogy research.
Ironically the website was founded by a Tipton (of which I am one). His name is Jim Tipton. Another irony, I didn't know about the website until my cousin Tim Tipton told me about it during our mutual Tipton family genealogy research. And here I am, yet another Tipton with this never ending interest in cemeteries and those who are in them.
Originally I went to Find a Grave to find information about my family genealogy. However, I soon discovered that there are all kinds of stories in the various cemeteries that I have visited. One only has to look at the dates of birth and death to understand what happened in these families. Sometimes I come across a grave with a small headstone which states the same date of birth and death. This is obviously of a child who died at birth. So sad. My brother has a son who died at birth. I haven't "visited" that grave. I have a very good friend who has several children who died at birth or shortly thereafter. So sad.
The last couple of days I've been recording information that I've gathered over the last few years of various cemeteries I've visited. I've taken hundreds of photos but haven't posted them. I'm trying to post them all now because the past few months other Find a Grave members in this area of southern Delaware are posting their photos. I guess I'm a little selfish because I want to post my photos first. To me this is a way of honoring those who passed on. I want to feel like I've contributed, made a difference, small as it may be.
I haven't done much else in my life that will be remembered after I'm gone but I would like to do this. One of the hazards of posting all this information and photos is that every now and then one hits me very hard. That happened this morning while I was updating my Find a Grave account.
I posted a photo of a grave of a young man who died in Vietnam. He was only 20 years old. Another senseless, wasted death of a War of Choice that this country should never have been in. Seeing all the flowers and the colorful headstone of this young man's final resting place made me so aware of how much of a loss this family had when they lost their son and husband. He never had a chance.
I was born a month before this country entered into World War II. My whole life has been punctuated by wars this county has been in. First there was World War II. At least that war was justified. Then there was the Korean War. I remember as a teenager, hoping that war would end before I was of draft age. Then there was the Viet Nam war. I was lucky because I joined the Army in January of 1960 and left in January of 1963. I would have made a career out of the Army (I liked it, believe it or not) if I wasn't gay but back in those days if they found out you were gay they kicked you out. I didn't want to take that chance. As it turned out it was a good thing I got out. Right before my departure date I was asked to reenlist. They promised me a big bonus ($1,300 which was a lot in those days) and a chance to got to this exotic country, Viet Nam. I declined. This was just as Viet Nam was heating up. If I wasn't gay I would have stayed in and by now I probably would be in a grave myself with someone else taking a picture of another young man's life given in vain.
This country loves wars. Now we're in three of them. Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya. There are probably more wars our government and their corporate owners are planning as I write this blog.
I didn't intend for this blog posting to be an anti-war screed but you know me, I go with where my thinking takes me. You know, the old "freewill." That is one thing I appreciate about this country, we do have some freedom of speech. Not always but we have more than most countries.
To get back to the original intent of this blog posting, the point I wanted to make was after I posted the picture of this young man's grave a wave of heavy sadness swept over me. I choked up. Tears came to my eyes. I don't even know this young man but just looking at his final resting place caused such sadness within me because it brought to fore again at how wasteful our government is. They seem to be driven by corporate interests which demand wars and more wars to feed the corporate coffers. And the result is the photo you see, a young man's life wasted. A family still torn by grief over their loss. So sad.
The least I can do is to make sure this young man's sacrifice is not forgotten. This is one of the reasons I record grave sites and photos to Find a Grave.com.
I record all the graves of folks who are no longer with us. No one should be forgotten. That is why we have cemeteries. For the living to remember those who have gone. Now with modern technology and the Internet, everyone who has a computer can visit a cemetery. I am proud to be part of that effort.
I'm tempted to apologize for mixing my anti-war screed in this posting but I'm not going to. I make no apologies for being against Wars of Choice.