Visiting a National Cemetery (the final resting place for Veterans of all Wars) is a numbing experience at first. Depending on the layout, you could see rows and rows of Crosses like you see at Arlington National Cemetery or nothing at all like it is here at Punchbowl. Unlike Arlington, the Grave markers at Punchbowl are laid flat and depressed about one inch into the ground. The sheer silence as you enter the place is shocking but as you venture in, the silence is replaced by singing and chirping birds and other people who are visiting loved ones. .
Since the time my Mom joined my Dad I have been immersed in tracing my Family Tree and I think that is why I found myself one day walking through the grounds of the Non-Living. I live within 3 miles of two cemeteries, one of which is owned by the Catholic Diocese of Honolulu.
I was appalled by the condition of this place. Headstones were lopsided or completely missing, quite a few graves that were unmarked. I found out later that the Diocese ceased burials in 1930 but after overlooking the conditions I really started to look at the headstones of people buried there.
I saw some beautifully designed stones with the names of the person or families and when they died. I also was very saddened when I saw that there were quite a few children buried in the cemetery. Children who were less than 5 years old and some not even a month or day old. A child entering this world with love and not even allowed to enjoy childhood.
This really got me thinking. Looking at the Family plot I imagined the Parents overcome with joy when they brought a brand new life into the world and then their world completely shattered when the child died shortly afterwards. I was grumbling and upset over the conditions of this sacred ground and here were these families who must have gone through hell and trying to move on from their tragedy.
This experience has put a whole new perspective to my life. Before I just took life for granted but now I am respecting what I have around me. Family and friends. Living life to it's fullest and loving everything around me. We are blessed to be on this Earth, raised by loving Parents trying to teach us right from wrong and guiding us to the best of their abilities till it is our turn to be Parents.
Take time to walk through a Cemetery and look at the headstones and imagine what their life could have been like and you will get a fuller appreciation of your own.