Wow. Instantly, a pretty much unending slew of photo requests has been rolling in on an almost hourly basis. The other day, my iPhone was bleeping incessantly as I received 46 photo requests! They were all for graves of folks buried at the Massachusetts National Cemetery. Just a short 15-20 minute drive from my home - and I had never been there before.
After a few hours of spackling walls, trying to plumb the depths of my finicky plumbing and unpacking more boxes at home, I headed up Route 28 to visit the Cemetery. It was a blustery, chilly day. I arrived to a rather severe, eerie landscape. With the trees and shrubs bare from winter, and the still-brown grass, the rolling hills and valleys feel like a science fiction landscape.
|A view from Veteran's Way|
The information center is quite arresting, as you enter the cemetery. You can search for your deceased's grave at computer terminals both inside and outside the Center. They also hand out paper maps of the cemetery. I was not searching for anyone in particular. The photo requests for this cemetery seem to be fulfilled by a few people, very quickly. I assume they either work at the Cemetery, or live nearby and have taken on these memorials for FindaGrave as their own personal mission.
I did take the paper map and drive around the winding roads through this rather barren landscape.
|Massachusetts National Cemetery Info Center|
You will also drive by the committal monuments. They too have a stark quality to them, rectangular concrete blocks perched on hillsides. However, reading some of the stones finally gave me a sense of the human element to it all. Was quite cheering: the real names, humor, and loving messages.
|Alabiso: Meatball and Eggplant Secrets|
In this short exploration, I could not yet determine how the graves were located. The deceased side by side, served in WWII, Vietnam, Korea, etc. No one committal monument location was designated for any one war. I'm sure their website explains all this, or someone at the Info Center would be happy to oblige.
|Hillside of invisible stones|
And, I am sure the weather, the time of year and paucity of trees punctuating this cemetery all added to its rather disquieting, impersonal atmosphere. I did not take to it. In fact, with the many pickup trucks, tractors, and personnel humming around, I did feel like I'd stepped onto a military base without permission. As I dashed around a hillside on foot in the cold, one nice guy stopped his big orange Kubota tractor and asked me if I needed help.
Well...yes. Can you fix a leaking sink pipe??
I will revisit the Mass. National Cemetery in late Spring. Maybe around Memorial Day. I'm sure it will have a totally different ambiance. And even though I purposely chose not to do preliminary online research on this cemetery, I also realize that the history of the cemetery and it's general rules, events and an explanation of the property is available at their website.