Contemplating Life While Strolling Through Sacred Ground

by Paul_Takeo

If you are just taking life for granted, a walk through these grounds will make you re-think your Life Priorities.

When I was young, unless they were a part of the family, I always wondered why people did this. I would say to myself, "it is a depressing place to walk through" or "there's nothing to see" but as I got older I found myself walking through these grounds. The "Ground" I am talking about is a Cemetery.

My Mom and Dad are buried at the National Memorial Cemetery Of The Pacific, more commonly known in Hawaii as "Punchbowl". It got it's name because the cemetery sits inside Puowaina Crater, a dormant volcano and from the sky it looks like a huge punch bowl.

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Respecting Life While Visiting The Dead

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 ourPhoto of National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific courtesy of Daniel Ramirez 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.



Updated: 03/01/2015, Paul_Takeo
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frankbeswick on 03/01/2015

Mother was a strong Catholic and so believed in an afterlife, therefore the place of the body after death was not of great interest to her. Though I know that my sister makes an issue of visiting it, and she makes a big issue of anniversaries of death.

Paul_Takeo on 02/28/2015

i think your Mom wanted to be remembered with living memories you have of her. Maybe she thought if you see her grave you will only think of her as not being here anymore and that would make you sad and she would not want you to feel that way.

frankbeswick on 02/28/2015

Visiting cemeteries is not morbid; it is part of life, for people need to visit cemeteries to cope with grief. But cemetery visiting does not matter to everyone, some love it, some oppose it. The reasons are personal. Go with the flow.

What do you think of this example? My mother insisted that we do not visit her grave, but when I saw it at a family funeral I had a special moment, as it brought back memories. I know that her spirit is not in the grave, but I want to remember her.

Paul_Takeo on 02/28/2015

Thank You CountrySunshine. Like I said in my story I didn't know why people would visit cemeteries if they didn't know anyone there but now I know why and if you have never been to our National Cemetery at Punchbowl you would be awe struck at how huge it is.

CountrySunshine on 02/28/2015

My husband and my brother-in-law are both buried at DFW National Cemetery. No matter how many times I visit, I'm overwhelmed by the number of graves. Especially knowing that these are the final resting places of those who were willing to sacrifice their lives for our country.

While some believe that visiting cemeteries might be morbid, I find them to be interesting. There are stories behind each grave, and like you stated... they are lives loved and lost.

Interesting, thought-provoking article!

Paul_Takeo on 02/28/2015

I have seen photos of Church graveyards on the Mainland and in Europe and they are beautiful and well maintained. I wish our graveyards were like those in Europe.

frankbeswick on 02/28/2015

In Britain we have some old churchyards which contain graves. These all belong to the Church of England, but most are now full up. Ecologists love these churchyards, as they are havens for various plant species and for birds. So many people will have a short stroll through one sometimes. For people like this it is not just the graves but the total experience that matters.

WriterArtist on 02/27/2015

I admit that I do not find the idea of strolling through the cemetreries very motivating but I would do so nevertheless, it gives me a moment for myself contemplating the uncertainty of life. The thought that life is ephemeral and that I have to abandon everything when I go gives me food for thought. Every now and then, it is worth visiting such place as it gives me the short span of life and the fact that it has to be lived justly.

Digby_Adams on 02/27/2015

I live near very old cemeteries that date back to the 1600s. If the headstones are still readable, I often read their epitaphs. They are very haunting and beautiful.

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