Saturday, April 22, 2017

The 52-week photography project: R is for remembrance

The theme for week 15 of the 52-week photography project was "hard." It is an artistic theme and the people who organized the challenge at Dogwood Photography invited participants to interpret the theme in any way that they were inspired to do so.

Unyielding and unchanging. The loss
of a baby. Just one year on a grave marker.
I thought about the word "hard" and images associated with hard, and I thought of cemeteries. Tombstones are hard, in more than one way. They are unyielding and they can't be changed. They are made of various materials, such as fieldstones, granite, marble, limestone, sandstone, or slate. 

Cemetery marker seen at Maple Grove
Cemetery, Grand Island
From a human, emotional level, tombstones are hard. They are a reminder that a loved one is gone, never to come back. Because tombstones exist, however, they are also a reminder that the person buried at that marker had existed. That person had some influence on the world.
Love means never forgetting.
The tombstones are a reminder that the person is not forgotten and, even after death, is still loved. 


My father, Roy Gerard is buried at Whitehaven
Cemetery. I will always cherish my
memories of him. He was a brilliant
man who could add long lists of numbers
in his head. He was also a father, grandfather,
and great grandfather.
One of the most painful aspects of losing a loved one is the inability to make new memories with that person. It becomes necessary to focus on past memories, to keep the loved one alive. 

Today, I thought about remembrance when I visited two cemeteries in Grand Island: the Whitehaven Cemetery, established in 1865, and Maple Grove Cemetery, established in 1902.

Monument to Grand Island's first
town supervisor, John Nice.
The Whitehaven Cemetery is located near the Niagara River on the eastern side of Grand Island. Spicer Creek is adjacent to the cemetery. Many famous Grand Island people are buried there, including John Nice, who was the first town supervisor. He was elected town supervisor in 1852, shortly after the town was incorporated. The election was held in his house. The cemetery is a peaceful location, surrounded by woods. 

Grave for Grand Island's war hero,
Charles DeGlopper, killed in action
in Normandy during World War II.
Maple Grove Cemetery is located in the interior of Grand Island. The most famous person buried there is Charles Neilens DeGlopper. This Grand Island native was born in November 1921 to Mary Neilens DeGlopper and Charles Leonard DeGlopper. He attended a one-room schoolhouse in Grand Island, called Schoolhouse #5 at the corner of Baseline and Bush roads. In 1941, he graduated from Tonawanda High School. This young man, who was noted to be very tall and very friendly, worked on the family farm until he joined the U.S. Army in November of 1942. He was trained in Camp Croft in South Carolina, and he was sent overseas in 1943.

Maple Grove Cemetery
Charles DeGopper, a member of the 325th Glider Infantry Regiment of the 82nd Airborne Division, was sent overseas in April 1943. He served in Sicily, Italy, and North Africa. The 325th Glider Infantry landed on Normandy by glider on June 7th, the day after D Day. Two days later, Private First Class Charles DeGlopper single-handedly defended his platoon's position. He kept firing, even after being shot several times, until he was killed outright. He died in La Fiere, France, at the age of 22. He was considered to have saved his entire platoon, while sacrificing his own life. On February 28th, 1945, Captain Wayne W. Pierce, 325 Glider Infantry, Commanding Company C, recommended Charles DeGlopper for the Medal of Honor. Posthumously, Charles DeGlopper was awarded the Medal of Honor, the highest honor awarded to any member of the Army. The award was presented to his father at Trinity Evangelical United Brethren Church on March 10th, 1946, by General Leland S. Hobbs. 


Whitehaven Cemetery,
Grand Island, New York.
Grand Island residents consider Charles DeGlopper to be their war hero. There is a park named for him, and he is pictured on a mural on the wall of the Grand Island Plaza that faces Baseline Road. The park is currently undergoing expansion. Those honored at DeGlopper Memorial Park will be Islanders killed in action, Island veterans, and Gold Star mothers. 

Note: The story that I planned to post today will be posted tomorrow. Stay tuned!

5 comments:

JCinelli said...

Hi Alice, thank you for a great blog post. Coincidentally, I was visiting Whitehaven Cemetery last week and took a pic of my grandfathers cemetery marker there and a friend of our family who was a WW II veteran a couple of plots down from him. Also, I live directly across the street from the cemetery on Stony Point and I take my pre-teenage daughter there every Memorial Day and talk about CMoH recipient PFC Deglopper and tell his story of heroism. It was one of the few times she was actually silent and listened while I was trying to educate her one our local American hero. By the way, they also re-named The Air Assault School at Ft. Bragg in honor of PFC Deglopper. His story of sacrifice and heroism really is quite amazing and tragic.

LIllian said...

Alice,
I appreciate how you transformed "hard" into "remembrance." I enjoyed learning the history of the young man who is his town's hero. It's a sober reminder that the men and women sent to fight our wars are often barely into adulthood. He was a year younger than my adult daughter and I can't imagine someone so young being in such a traumatic circumstance.

Thank you.

Lillian

Martha DeMeo said...

What What a unique way to interpret hard. So many memories in a cemetery.

Lady In Read said...

love your interpretation of the theme.. and really wowed by your dedication to the 52-week project - i have looked at many of those on your blog and your take is unique..

Alana said...

Now that is an association worthy of Remembering. We must think alike, because I saw something amazing today at Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond VA (I won't blog about it, at least at this time.). There is a legendary grave statue of a dog, keeping guard over a little girl toddler's grave. The amazing thing? What people leave at the grave: little dolls, legos, and other small toys. It's enough to break your heart. (search for Hollywood Cemetery and iron dog if you want to learn more.)

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