Archive for December 2009

Happy Holidays from Illuminated History!

December 22, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas and best wishes for the upcoming new year from Illuminated History!

2010 promises to be a busy year for me.  My Illuminated History:  The Civil War Soldiers of Perinton presentation for the Perinton Historical Society is scheduled for January 19th.  In the month of May, you will once again find me at Pittsford Cemetery discussing Pittsford’s Civil War soldiers and other local notables, with the date and time to be announced.  And I am working on a cemetery tour for the Perinton Historical Society to be given some time in late spring or early summer.  More information about these events can be found on my “Cemetery Tours and Presentations” page.

At this festive time of year, please remember our current troops who are serving in the Armed Forces.  I think of them often, wondering how much has changed since our local boys marched off to join the War Between the States so many years ago.  The heroes of today are still away from their families at the holidays.  They still suffer hardships.  They still need to feel appreciated for the jobs they are doing.  If you see a member of the Armed Forces, thank them for their service.  It will make their day and will let them know that they are not forgotten.

Best wishes for a healthy, happy holiday!

I Feel Dead People

December 7, 2009

“I see dead people,” I exclaimed to my husband.  I could immediately see the concern on his face as his eyebrows drew up and his eyes crinkled in slight disbelief.  After assuring him I was speaking metaphorically and that I probably wasn’t crazy at this particular time, he relaxed a little.  What I probably should have said was that I feel and appreciate the history of the cemetery and its inhabitants.  To me, a cemetery is an outdoor museum and not just a park containing headstones.

I can’t remember a time when I haven’t been fascinated with cemeteries.  When I was young, my Gram and I would go to Riverside Cemetery and to Holy Sepulchre to visit her mother and her sister, Nellie, who had died as a child.  As a pre-teen I’d ride my bike to the little cemetery near my home, buy a Coke from the pop machine at the fire hall across the street and spend time reading the headstones.  And every summer during my teen years, I’d head to the St. Lawrence River where my friend Laurie and I would walk through the Morristown cemetery looking for unusual monuments and monikers.  Now that I am an adult, my interest in these outdoor museums has grown and sharpened.

The conversation occurred as we discussed my upcoming Civil War soldiers presentation for the Perinton Historical Society.  What was my theme?  What did I hope to accomplish?  Why did I choose these specific soldiers to discuss?  My husband hit upon the theme first.  My goal, not only for the presentation but for my entire Civil War project, is to illuminate the lives of the Civil War soldiers who lived in our neighborhoods.  Everyone has heard the stories about General Ulysses S. Grant and General Robert E. Lee.  Multiple books and movies tell their stories.  But who tells the stories of the regular citizens who helped in the war effort?  The men who left their families behind.  The women who tended the children, balanced the books and ran the farm while their husbands fought many miles from home.

The cemeteries hold the keys to many mysteries.  I find comfort in the fact that so many soldiers are buried beside their loved ones.  It serves as a reminder that they were loved and remembered in death, as in life.  I feel sorrow for the soldiers who are buried in single graves.  Where were their families?  Did they marry?  Were they fathers?  The first time I walked through Pittsford Cemetery photographing the graves of these men, those thoughts occurred to me.  I felt a force drawing me to them.  “Our stories must be told.  We were important, too.  Bring us to light.”

I suppose I should have said, “I feel dead people”.  That would have been the truth.  So, while the soldiers I decided to discuss at my presentation were chosen because they were Perinton residents who had interesting stories to tell, they aren’t the only ones.  I will continue on the path that was chosen for me by the soldiers of yesterday.  I will tell all their stories, one by one.

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