Robert C. Daniels
Author / Adjunct History Professor
- 1220 Days: the story of U.S. Marine Edmond Babler and his experiences in Japanese Prisoner of War Camps during World War II
- World War II in Mid-America: Experiences from rural Mid-American during the Second World War
- Several published military history articles at www.militaryhistoryonline.com.
Articles within this website:
The following are licensed as for free use under Creative Commons (CC BY 4.0)
Read Some of My Published Articles:
Exploring Norfolk Cemeteries (tentative title)
The below are excerpts of a current book project that I am currently working on. Please consider this as a "draft" in progress.
My goal is to document each cemetery of Norfolk, Virginia, that I can locate and gain access to. What I am attempting to do in the many pictures that will be enclosed between the covers of this humble book is to capture some of the more interesting of the memorials and sights that can be seen in the local Norfolk graveyards and cemeteries. The pictures will be exclusively taken by me, the author, who does "not" even pretend to be a professional photographer, and are not intended to be all inclusive by any means. Nor are they intended to focus on any individual, family, or organization. For that matter, many of the names on the various gravestones and markers pictured will actually be illegible. They are/will be, instead, simply pictures that I, the author, feel represent the many facets of the local graveyards and cemeteries in the various Norfolk plots. They were/will be taken at different times of the day, on different visits to the same graveyards and cemeteries. They were/will be taken as a sight or object “speaks” to me, sort to speak, as I stroll through the burial grounds. Sights that I find to be of specific beauty, grace, and / or artistic . . . or even simply a bit odd or out of the ordinary. On some of the pictures I will insert a short caption where I will include the traditional definition or meaning of the symbols they contain, others I will simply let the picture speak for itself.
A book about gravestones and cemeteries? How macabre, dark, even ghoulish!? Not really. Although graveyards and cemeteries are places to intern the dead, they are also places of artistic beauty, even solemn repose and park-like. If one has ever strolled through a burial ground, especially one that has been around for a while, such as a century or more – in the daytime, of course (to do so after dark can very quickly get one locked up in the local jail facilities) – one most likely would not have missed seeing the beauty, the serenity, the silence, and the even artistic value of such a place.
Most are laid out much like a town’s streets, in squares or circles with shade trees, manicured lawns, statues, obelisks, and a plethora of headstones, many of which are intricately detailed with various symbols and in diverse and assorted shapes. Each tells a story, some sad, some beautiful, but all historic in their own way. As such, graveyards and cemeteries are places not to be missed, and well worth the time spent visiting them and touring them. View the artistry, the beauty, the history. Read and interpret the stories they tell.
Most people tend to use the terms Graveyard and Cemetery interchangeably. After all, both are, by design and purpose, a depository for the deceased. However, there is a subtle difference between the two. Tradition has it that a graveyard is attached to or directly associated with a church, while a cemetery is secular, being unrelated to a church, and normally – at least when it was originally laid out – placed at the outskirts of a town. Cemeteries also tend to be more purposely designed in neat patterns, such as squares or circles, many with paved access roads, whereas graveyards, especially those directly adjacent to its affiliated church, tend to be more crowded, with the graves somewhat haphazardly placed wherever room is available, with little if any access for vehicles. Graveyards also tend to be smaller than cemeteries, since they only serve the applicable congregation. In addition, cemeteries are inclined to be more tree-lined and park-like compared to most graveyards, with many cemeteries even being equipped with benches located under shade trees for their visitors’ use. There are, of course, like everything else, exceptions to these ‘rules,’ with some graveyards containing many of the same features as traditional cemeteries, and the vice versa being true as well.
Regardless of what their official classification might be, both graveyards and cemeteries can be truly interesting places to visit. Whether one is visiting the grave of a dearly departed or simply strolling through, many graveyards and cemeteries tend to be extremely peaceful and serene places to tour or simply sit in peace and listen to the birds, look at the clouds, or silently reminisce or contemplate. If one takes the time to explore, one can also discover history, beauty, even works of art, for graveyards and cemeteries contain numerous styles of grave markers, from a basic stone with a name and date, to intricate statues, epitaphs, and symbols, each with its own meaning . . . and each with their own story to tell.
Individuals are sometimes buried separately, while other times whole families are laid out in family plots surrounded by stone posts, even elaborate wrought iron fences. Sometimes whole generations can be traced back a century or two in these family plots. Others are grouped together with those they served with or fellow members of organizations they were a part of: plots of military members, such as Union or Confederate soldiers of the American Civil war; those that perished on shipwrecks off the American Coast or in American waters; members of the Masons, the Elks, or the Eagles, etc. Several cemeteries here in the Norfolk, Virginia, area, as in many areas of the South, have statues, obelisks, or other large markers displayed in prominent locations commemorating and in remembrance of the Confederate dead. At least one has the same for commemorating and in remembrance of the Union dead. Some families of more prominent deceased have had mausoleums, statues of angles, or obelisks erected in their memory. Quite touching, especially, can be the memorials for the infants and other youth who passed at the youngest of ages, normally denoted by a lamb or cherub figure perched atop a small gravestone.
Here are some examples of the pictures (none touched up) that will be included:
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Last updated on 13 Jul 2022 .
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