05/01/07 — Treasured history: Cemetery cleanup honors past and future

View Archive

Treasured history: Cemetery cleanup honors past and future

When you hear the story of Evelyn Shepard and Yvonne Stanley, you might wonder how many more places like the former Lightner Cemetery are waiting — forgotten — in Wayne County.

The two women have made it their mission to clean up this abandoned cemetery and to protect the history that lies beneath the tangled brambles and the leaves, roots and vegetation.

They say that their journey has been one of discovery — and a task that has only just begun.

They expect to discover more surprises as they continue their efforts.

These women are doing more than simply cleaning up their county. They are making sure some of its history is preserved.

And that is a gift to generations of Wayne County residents they might never have the chance to meet.

There are many people like Mrs. Shepard and Mrs. Stanley who realize that they are caretakers for the past and the future of Wayne County — and that what they do will leave a trail for those who will come next.

Their discoveries are their reward — a gravestone of a hero, an artifact from life on an early farm, a forgotten story. They ask for nothing in return.

Mrs. Shepard and Mrs. Stanley started their cemetery cleanup to take care of a need — and to honor family and strangers whose lives mattered and whose efforts helped build this community.

They welcome any volunteers who want to dig with them — or the wisdom of anyone who might know a story or two about the former Lightner Cemetery or the people buried there.

They hope to be able to honor the veterans there in time for Memorial Day.

Their actions are an inspiration to all of those who might see a need — and wonder whether their leadership could make a difference.

The answer is that even the smallest effort contributes to this community.

And sometimes, even uncovers a historical treasure or two or a story that would otherwise have gone untold.

That is why taking care of this community’s past is as vital as preparing for its future.

Published in Editorials on May 1, 2007 1:12 PM