Monday, May 30, 2011

Decoration/ Memorial Day in Liberty & Cemeteries in Montgomery County

Memorial Day used to be called Decoration Day.  On that day, those fallen in service to the nation were honored with flowers on their graves.  The holiday eventually was called Memorial Day, eventually becoming one of the federally recognized Monday holidays that created our now beloved three day weekends.  In the "old days", my mom, Grandma Jonas and some of the female relatives would put together flower baskets in weather proof containers to trek out to the cemeteries.  There they sought out the graves of everyone in the family, Ankney's, Jonas', Clayton's, Cappel's and a few others like the Shiverdecker's and the Hole's.  The genealogy people at the Ohio genealogical Society are mapping all the cemeteries and cataloging names of the deceased.
 Cemeteries in Montgomery County, Ohio

I rode along once or twice, but I was bored and didn't understand the concept of honoring the dead in my early years.  I did get the message about the importance of Family, though.  And I got familiar with the location of several graveyards.  Now, many of the persons mentioned in my blog posts are buried in those cemeteries.  I think of Mrs. Cannon's sugar cookies (and Doug and sledding down the big hill on the Cannon farm on Snyder Rd.) whenever I go north on Diamond Mill Road north of Mile Road and see the cemetery on the West side of the road next to the farm with the spring where she is buried.  Rex Cannon is also buried there as is Don Lenk (Aunt Crock's husband, in 2010), related to all the Lenks in Liberty Church (Mary Jo Spitler , a former Lenk, still is a member).

The Liberty Church graveyard hasn't been used for decades, having become a problem when ancient headstones began to crumble and the parking lot expanded.  So no one gets buried in Liberty.  Many are buried just north of Route 35 on the east side of Union Road while a few, including Charlie Baker ("Bake", as wife Catherine and everyone else referred to him, and, I assume, Catherine herself) are buried just west of the intersection of Union and Rt. 35 on the north side of  Rt 35 in a mausoleum.

My Grandpa Jonas (Arthur Harry who died in 1966) is buried in Dayton Memorial Park north of Dayton off North Dixie Drive next to Grandma.  Aunt Crock will eventually go there next to her first husband, Rev. Jess Goodheart.  Grandpa Jonas was unusual in that he said he never wanted to know where his father, August, was buried since his upbringing was a very harsh, disciplined, stressful experience.  His brother Oscar referred to their dad as "the Kaiser", reflecting on the German origins of August and his brothers who came here on a ship in the 1880's.  August eventually got a job as a stonemason and lived with his wife and 8 or so children on Steele Avenue in East Dayton. He got pneumonia in 1908 and died within days, according to cousin Steve Christian who grew up in East Dayton, graduated from Stivers High School and Wright State, then went to MI for his accounting, teaching and coaching career.

Cousin Steve, grandson of Great Uncle Oscar Jonas, was in Dayton a few weeks ago to lay his mother Vera Jonas Christian's ashes to rest in the Woodland Cemetery Mausoleum with his father Will.  After the service, Steve asked Mike and I if we wanted to see where August Jonas, our great grandfather, was buried.  "Yes," we answered and in 4 minutes 103 years of estrangement of the Arthur Harry Jonas clan from August Jonas was ended. Trans-generational forgiveness is refreshing.  Here's Mike and I with August Jonas grave.

Memorial Day has a lot more meaning for me now as an adult with awareness of life and death and issues of Freedom and Peace.  What price Freedom?  My dad's cousin Gordon Ankney, a pilot in WWII was killed in service of our country.  The emptiness still hit his siblings and cousins hard whenever he was mentioned at the Ankney Family Reunions.  The sense of loss never ends, but the meaning of the loss evolves.

As a Vietnam Veteran, I reflect on the meaning of the losses in Vietnam, including 20 of my West Point 1968 classmates in my post today on Dr. Synonymous (The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall - Silence Beyond Words).  Freedom isn't free.

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