You may have never strolled the narrow lanes of a quaint English town, but thanks to modern media, you’ll recognize one when you see a picture. The village church, made of native stone, will generally be surrounded by the graves of generations of its congregants.

It’s a reminder that we colonials didn’t much care for. Instead, as Americans spread out from New England, cemeteries, often isolated, were constructed at some distance from the churches and townsfolk. This not only cut off the reminder that earthly life is transitory and death inescapable, but it also removed the weekly reminder that graves need tending.

Rick Cousins can be reached at


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