These words are being written in the morning at Martin Oaks Cemetery and Crematory in Lewisville, Texas.
Martin Oaks is not what a cemeterian would call “a country club” — rather it is a country cemetery, one that is steeped in history.
Having been part of the Martin cattle ranch back in the 1800’s, it started as a family graveyard; cowboys are said to be buried here.
Over time, Martin Oaks reflected the spirit of changing times: Civil War veterans are here, local politicos are here and, sadly, many infants are also here.
We are in a natural setting, next to a church, embedded in a neighborhood. Our prices are not the highest in the area; in fact, we provide spaces at an affordable rate.
Cremains are also interred in Martin Oaks. Since our principal business model is affordable cremation, families and funeral directors sometimes elect to use our close by spaces.
Walking around the cemetery, it is easy to recall some of the profound poetry that has been written about places like Martin Oaks.
“Elegy Written in Country Churchyard,” written by Thomas Gray in 1751, still stands as one of our most iconic meditations on the meaning of life and death, as well as a contemplation of those who lie buried in the churchyard.
“The curfew tolls the knell of parting day… and all the air a solemn stillness holds,” the famous poem begins. If you haven’t had a chance to read it, we recommend you do.
Perhaps the poem which has the highest recognition factor in these matters is John Donne’s “For Whom the Bell Tolls.”
“No man is an island, entire of itself. Each is a piece of the continent, a part of the main…therefore, send not to know for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee.”
With all of the might of a master wordsmith, Donne summarizes our human condition and our final “absorption into the divine essence” in just a few sentences. We are in this together — when one of us passes, part of all of us passes.
One of the amazing qualities that Martin Oaks has is the number of veterans who are buried here. Almost every major war is represented.
Next week, flags will placed on those graves, as next Monday is Memorial Day (Decoration Day as it was called for much of my life).
The practice of decorating war veteran graves dates back to the Civil War — actually, before, during and after that conflict.
This year’s Memorial Day may well be the most traveled one in history.
The American Automobile Association is forecasting that record — it is expected that nearly 42 million Americans will be journeying this weekend. Astoundingly, 36 million are predicted to be doing that travelling by car.
If you plan to travel, and wish to avoid the bulk of the delays, schedule your trip either early, early in the day or later at night, as some cities roads will be filled to what AAA is calling “capacity.”
Take Washington, DC for example. AAA estimates that almost one million people will be traveling in cars in the area — up nearly 5 percent from last year.
Experts remind us that the “four D’s” are the prime culprits for trouble — drinking, drugging, and being drowsy or distracted.
Safety professionals fear that we may have one of the deadliest Memorial Days ever. So far this year, the death count on America’s roads is up 11 percent compared to last year.
Strolling through Martin Oaks Cemetery reminds us how many have given their lives for this great country — we salute those veterans today.
And we pray that those traveling this Memorial Day holiday travel with care — remembering our veterans and remembering to be safe on the roads needs to be uppermost on all of our minds.