My sister, me, and my niece hanging out by Dad on Memorial Day in 2014. 

Memorial Day is to cemeteries as Black Friday is to malls. This year, on May 30, our poor, neglected cemeteries finally get the attention they deserve. Many people will visit the graves of loved ones, perhaps a little too quickly, a fast in and out to place flowers and pause for a couple of minutes. But if you have the time, linger. You never know what you will find.

1. Visit some nearby graves. You’re there to remember a dear friend or family member. But consider taking a little walk. Who’s buried nearby? What’s the most unique name you come across? What kinds of mementoes have been left at those graves? Do they have a story to tell?

2. Don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation with a stranger. You’ll probably see others at the cemetery on this day. People generally are willing to talk about their loved ones. Conversation about them is one way to keep memories alive. You likely will come away with some powerful stories about love, life, and history.

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My attempt at an artsy photo. 

3. Take photos. Cemeteries are beautiful. Take note of the art of the gravestones and the color of flowers.

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A perfect candidate for a gravestone rubbing. 

4. Consider doing gravestone rubbings. I loved doing this as a kid. On occasion, Dad would need to document a gravestone. A rubbing was one way to show the font so the monument guy could add words or dates that would match the look. Do you see an unusual font or a particularly beautiful etching of a flower or angel? This can be a fun project for kids.

If you want to leave something at a grave, please consider something other than artificial flowers. I have more information in this blog post.

I hope it’s a beautiful Memorial Day wherever you are.