20 July 2009

Odd Facts about Cemeteries

I am sure this was the last thing you thought I'd be writing about with Ironman just around the corner.

My mom frequents Ohio Western Reserve National Cemetery to visit my dad's grave. Over the past few months, she has called with interesting stories about the happenings around the cemetery (who knew they were so.. active?). Western Reserve has plenty of land to expand to, and with the rise in death rates of veterans, has been doing a lot of work in the cemetery. Adjacent to where dad is buried is a large urn garden. They have been constructing another urn garden beside the first one, which will hold another 5,000 remains. Beside Section 11, where dad is buried, they have been prepping another "section" of land for burials.

Ever wonder what goes into prepping land for burials? Well, here's the process, as accounted by my mom's phone calls:

Step 1: Dig up the ENTIRE section, 8.5 feet deep. Why not 6 feet deep? Double vaults. At OWRNC, both the vet and their spouse, military or nonmilitary, can be buried together. So, everyone gets double deep vaults. By entire section, I'm talking about a space for about 300 burials. Make everything perfectly smooth.
Step 2: Arrange the burial vaults with about a six inches of room around each vault. Gotta have a little bit of elbow room down there. :) Place caps on the vaults.
Step 3: Fill the entire lot with gravel. Yes, gravel. Ever wonder why Arlington National Cemetery (for the DC folks) looks so perfect, whereas most of your city owned cemeteries have a more "bumpy" look to them? Gravel. It prevents any type of ground sink that traditional cemeteries encounter when they backfill with dirt.
Step 4: Spread dirt over the top few inches of the gravel.

When the lot is going to begin housing deceased, the particular plot is dug up, the body is placed at the bottom of the double vault (or top if their roommate's already there), and then the gravel is replaced along with the dirt. Once a whole row is filled, the cemetery will lay strips of sod across the grave sites.

I keep telling my mom to get pictures of the construction in action, but she says she would feel weird snapping pictures. I'll update the post if I ever get pictures, but I happened to find this whole process very interesting. Something you never really think about - I had no idea there was such a science behind grave digging.

I'll update tomorrow once I'm finished packing for Placid - including a how to on ghetto-rigging some new decals for your race wheels.


Kelly said...

Hmm... I didn't realize they dug the whole BEFORE they needed it. Weird.

D said...

Lindsay, what the hell? lol

Gina said...

That is odd...informative, but odd. Who knew!? :)

Rainmaker said...

I feel like you should be updating wikipedia articles on the subject...