"Therefore, go forth, companion: when you find
No highway more, no track, all being blind,
The way to go shall glimmer in the mind.
Though you have conquered Earth and charted Sea
And planned the courses of all Stars that be,
Adventure on, more wonders are in Thee.
Adventure on, for from the littlest clue
Has come whatever worth man ever knew;
The next to lighten all men may be you ..."
"The Wanderer" by John Masefield
Walking amongst the grave stones in Arlington National Cemetery one comes upon a scene of substance which causes one to ponder.
Along the rows of neatly laid out headstones, one finds numerous trees of various sizes and shapes. These trees and other like flora and fauna, which are intentionally placed, planted, and maintained with meticulous care, are designed to give solace and support to us the living. The living trees are symbolic of the continuation of growth and life. Trees, shrubs and bushes along with other luscious green growth make the honored final resting places retreats for the living.
Arlington National Cemetery is the nation’s premier ‘final resting place’ for veterans. It is budgeted to assure its many tombs, monuments and graves are properly cared for and maintained. The administrators at Arlington National Cemetery, like other burial sites administrators around the world, face many similar issues and questions. Along with the desire to show respect by designing graveyards which project veneration, these hallowed burial grounds also try to allow visitors and loved ones easy access while giving comfort.
The standing symbolic trees, as their branches and roots have grown and expanded are intruding on the buried remains. “What to do with trees when, over time, their continued growth begins to intrude on a burial sight?”
Some grave sights are encompassed to the point where the tomb stone is part of the tree. Should one even contemplate the status of the coffin and its occupant? Another issue is that if this is happening at ANC, with its significant federal budget, what are conditions of graves at cemeteries (national, state and local) which do not receive the attention and money?