From the Publisher's Desk

Michele Thomas

Memorial Day weekend is special for most of us: three days of Randamp;R at the end of May. The holiday signals the kick-off of summer. It's time to start your tan, break out your strappy sandals and find a new bathing suit. Anglers and boaters mend, polish, rig and ready their gear.

Anticipation of the weekend stirs up consumers with big sales on patio furniture and propane, camping equipment and canopies, and creates congestion in the check-out stand at the grocery store with carts overflowing with hot dog buns, watermelons, chips and beer.

Last Saturday I witnessed preparations for this weekend that did not involve shopping or sporting gear. However, garden equipment was involved as well as a couple of cases of soda and some coolers. The venue was a different kind of park.

A small group of folks - ranging in age from teenagers to grandparents - gathered on the grassy slope above Home Depot with their engines running. Their lawn mower and weed eater engines, that is. I had read in our community calendar a call for volunteers to ready the cemetery on Cooper Avenue for Memorial Day. I was curious about what needed to be done and who would be there to do it. The volunteers from the local Latter Day Saints Church were well into their project when I arrived around 10 a.m. I noticed a woman in curlers, a scarf over her hair, diligently pushing a lawn mower over damp grass that stood nearly a foot tall. I saw several men hacking away at knee-high brush and weeds. There were young people on their knees whisking away cut grass with their bare hands to reveal names and dates on aged markers.

In the middle of one area being weeded a large gray headstone with the name andquot;Cooperandquot; stood taller than the grass. Cooper as in Cooper Avenue, I thought. Who was Cooper, I wondered. What did this cemetery look like when Cooper was buried here?

I stopped by the cemetery again Thursday. The grass was edged, no clippings on the ground, neat and tidy, ready for Memorial Day. The folks who worked last Saturday, breaking only for lunch and a few sodas, turned a wasteland into a respectable memorial park. Those who stop at the cemetery this weekend to pay their respects and place their wreaths, flags and flowers should be impressed with the makeover.

It's probably the same in every town across America. Generous souls honor the dead by showing up before Memorial Day weekend to care for the final resting places of strangers. In my hometown, San Pedro, I hope there's someone to make sure my parents' gravesite is presentable today.

Thank you to the volunteers who worked in the cold to tend to the Cooper family plot, and thanks to persons I will never know for caring for my folks. I'd like to think that next year you'll be joined by many more of us as we finally figure out what preparing for Memorial Day weekend could mean.

Reach Michele Thomas, the Triplicate's publisher, at