Emma and I had an hour to waste one day so we went to the old section of the local cemetery and poked around. I gave her the camera, hoping to keep her more engaged, but I shouldn’t have bothered. She took to the grave-spotting right away, fascinated by the people’s names and the stories about their lives that were revealed in their tombstones.
She was most upset about the children’s graves, of course, and found several children near her own age of 11. It was shocking, I think, for her to realize that children die all the time. At that age, we are impervious to thoughts of our own death. She certainly had been.
We talked about the people, made guesses about them, or–in the case of the family that had six small children lined up in a series of graves–how horrible it must have been for them. There were a smattering of burials in 1918 and 1919, and I told her about the Spanish Flu epidemic and how it was likely that these folks died due to it. We saw war veterans–Civil, WWI, WWII, and Korea. I suppose that soon the cemeteries will be in-taking veterans from Vietnam because they are rapidly aging.
It was a good way to spend an hour and a good way to teach history. Sort of from the back-end forward.