Andy Harpole Won’t Give Up on Eastern Cemetery, Even Though City of Louisville Has
It started Memorial weekend. I heard about it on NPR. Flagging Veterans' tombstones at Eastern. A cemetery in ill-repair, abandoned, unloved, desecrated. Veterans' graves long forgotten and left to rot. I made my family go. And it turned out to be an experience we will never forget. We ran around looking for Veterans' final resting places. Chris spoke a sentence that resonates in my soul, even three months later, "even if they aren't Veterans they deserve to be seen." He told Brytin as they brushed grass clippings off tombstones.
At some point, someone told me there was history. A lot of horrible history at Eastern. So of course that night I Googled. I must have read 15 different articles about the atrocious mishandling of finances and land and disrespect for the deceased and just morally repugnant business choices in Eastern's history.
But there they were, this group of angels all dedicated to helping repair and restore and love on and respect this 30 acres of misshapen ground. The Friends of Eastern Cemetery has been around for a little over a year, I guess. Working diligently on Sundays and some other days too, using their personal resources and as many donated resources as they could muster, to try their hand at caring for this molested land.
Somehow, my family seems to run into a debacle most Sundays that prevents our participation in their clean-up efforts, but we do try. Today, we were debacle-free and able to join in. All four of us were there scrubbing the Loomis wakehouse, hoping to restore some of that light grey luster. (We succeeded!!!)
Sean talked about the building as we scrubbed - about the architect Loomis, about the building's purpose and folklore and I kept thinking how remarkable it is that this group of people each have so much knowledge about different aspects of this 30-acres of land. Some of them know biographies of various people buried there (like the "favorites" and the politicians and prominent citizens and the Veterans - I've heard stories about a lot of them.) Some of them know about the historical drama that this land has been through. Some of them know about cemetery restoration/preservation and how to go about it. And together they have this vision for the land, the cemetery, the future of this hallowed ground. And it is just so beautiful it brings tears to my eyes every time I think about it.
When I am with this group of people, loving on a land that can never repay them, I see exactly what Jesus meant for the church to be.
If you have any interest in helping out, please do not hesitate to contact me. Truly, there is an avenue for every different interest - philanthropy, landscape, entrepreneurs, preservation/restoration, civic duty, crafting and even natural, botanical foods and products.
My Kids are Blessed by FOEC Too!