You may have noticed I think that stories are really interesting. I like hearing people talk about their lives, who they are, and where they come from. Sometimes though you are in a place that is heavy with somebodies story, even thought they not there. I have had the honor of visiting a few of them recently.
First was a small cemetery in the Smokey Mountains. It was an old cemetery, from the 1800s. When you walked in you could feel the weight of the people who had lived in those mountains and of the hard life they lived. There were a lot of graves that showed lives of only only a few years or even days. Somebody maintains the cemetery, im not sure who, perhaps it is just the park service for the benefit of tourists like us. In my mind thought this is a family cemetery and the decedents of the buried come back to cut the grass, put flowers on the graves, and set the headstones back up. This is sort of a sad thought to me in some ways, there is nothing alive there, the people have long ago returned to the earth. So, I am not sure I relate to the need and drive to maintain the land they were buried in. But, then the weight of the place comes back to me. Here is a place that stands in memory of normal people who did normal things and lived normal lives. Yet they are still remembered. And I can stand there, in a place where 200 years ago real life was happening, I don’t really know why, but that is important to me.
There is a bit of a problem with all of this though. The story that is told by that cemetery, and the whole of the Smokey Mountain park neglects a really important story of the people who were there first and were forced to leave. The weight of that story is not felt, but it should be….
…which leads to the second place I visited recently. The story of this place actually starts with the Trail of Tears, and the end is not in site. The signpost in this story that I visited is the Reconciliation Park in Tulsa. The park is in memory of the Tulsa Race Riots. I had heard about these riots of course, but never really knew the full story. If you get a chance to visit the park you should.