Day of Service

I mentioned in an earlier post that I did a service project with my church out in St. Bernard Parish on Saturday morning. We were told that we would help clean up a cemetery, so of course I was excited about it. This cemetery was basically in shambles after Katrina, and many of the vaults were washed away. We were told by the people at Camp Hope (with whom we coordinated the project) that after the storm, they found the vaults on the roads and in the forest. They had to get a big crane to bring them all back and then ended up just putting them down wherever they could. For the most part, it seemed orderly, but then there were a few places like this.

Luckily our group volunteered after the group that was assigned to gather all of the remains, place them in body bags and bury them in a mass grave (since it would have been financially impossible to determine the identity of the scattered remains). We simply had to use steel brushes to scrape off all the peeling paint and then paint them over again so they looked nice and bright.

Even with 20-30 of us there working hard for 3 hours, we still only completed a row and a half. I know painting a cemetery probably doesn’t seem like it would do much good, but I think the way we care for our dead is important, and I feel like cemeteries are a very real part of our community. When I drove back to St. Bernard on Sunday to take the photos of the golden fields, I drove Jaime past the cemetery. There was a baseball game going on next door and the place was packed with cars and people walking around and through the cemetery to get to the baseball field. I don’t know if they noticed that a few vaults were painted, but I felt like I had somehow contributed (even just a little) to beautifying the community.

(photos taken with the iphone, so please forgive the poor quality.)

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