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Chuck Hinman: IJMA. Small Town Cemeteries

Chuck Hinman: Small Town Cemeteries. Chuck suggests we check out Memoiral Day at the Liberty, Nebraska, cemetery.
Next earlier Chuck Hinman column - You Did What?

By Chuck Hinman

Small Town Cemeteries

What in the world is there to say about "Small Town Cemeteries" except to say that when you have seen one, you have seen them all! Not quite, Jessie!

You are not going to put Liberty, Nebraska's cemetery in that classification! You have to see it, and know about its volunteers, to believe it!

Flags a reminder of Liberty's finest

I suggest you tour it on any Memorial Day -- when the hundreds of peonies, pink, white, and wine are in full bloom, when the cemetery lawn is immaculately groomed, and when the Liberty Cemetery Board's efforts to receive as a donation all the flags presented to grieving family members of the decedents ... and use them to proudly line the driveway through the cemetery! With a good stiff wind blowing the flags -- it is awesome and a proud reminder of the valor of some of Liberty's finest.

Two of the flags snapping in the brisk Nebraska breeze represent the memory of the Gleeton boys, Alvin and Charles, both lost in World War Two. They were the sons of Liberty's dentist many years ago, cigar-chomping Doc Gleeton.

Beauty of this cemetery didn't just happen

The awesome beauty of this cemetery didn't just happen. The story of why it is a breath-taking experience lies in the dedication of simple people like my brother Bob who spent his life farming a few miles from the cemetery.

Small towns like Liberty don't generate enough money to provide niceties seen in places like Grand Island, Lincoln, and Omaha. If these small bergs are going to have anything such as a superbly beautiful cemetery, such as Liberty's, you are going to see a ton of volunteer work on the part of interested citizens. You rang? Enter Bob Hinman.

Chuck's brother Bob's contributions

Over the years when Bob was on the cemetery board I have seen him do the following in connection with funerals of Liberty residents and friends:
He helped dig by hand the burial site before mechanical equipment was available.

He was there after the funeral, to close the burial site.

He was also active in the American Legion and many times when a military chaplain was needed, Bob took on the role of chaplain, conducting the service.

He was on the firing squad if full military rites were desired.

Topping all of the above -- even when he was an old man, after he handed his gun for someone to hold, he would play Taps on an old tarnished brass bugle and do a pretty decent job.
You ain't been to Liberty's cemetery on Memorial Day

Now, try to tell me when you have seen one small town cemetery, you have seen them all and I will say in a loud, unashamedly breaking voice, "Hogwash! You ain't been to Liberty, Nebraska's cemetery on Memorial Day!"

They know how to honor their forbears! But it doesn't just happen! It takes work!

I am now an old man. I have lived all over the world in much larger and prestigious places but none come close to comparing to Liberty, Nebraska, my home town!

Written by Chuck Hinman. Emailed Saturday, 19 January 2008.

Editorial Note: In the original version, Chuck wrote that Liberty, Nebraska's population was 74 and one old grouch -- my brother Bob. The 2000 census total was 86. One 2009 estimate is 241. (RHS 15 May 2010)

This story was posted on 2013-05-26 01:43:15
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