Memorial Day on
The Ridges - 2011
May 30, 2011
time the first patient was buried in the Ridges Cemeteries in
the late 1870s until recently, no Memorial Day ceremonies were ever
held there. Even the burials themselves were austere - with only
four workers, a chaplain, and a hospital administrator in
attendance. It would seem that folks with mental illnesses - buried
quickly under numbered stones - were viewed as troublesome misfits,
an embarrassment best forgotten.
the Ridges Cemeteries Committee has been working to refurbish and
beautify the cemeteries and, in so doing, restore dignity to the
deceased and fight stigma against their living counterparts. Since
2005, the Committee has made sure that Memorial Day is celebrated
This year, the
oldest of the three cemeteries – by the water tower – was chosen as
the site for our ceremony. The day was beautifully sunny and though
the temperature was well over 90 degrees, a big tent at the top of
the hill provided soothing shade. From that vantage point, the
audience could look out over a cemetery ablaze with small American
flags in veterans’ stands placed by OU Archivist Doug McCabe.
Ceremonies, Tom Walker, reminded the audience that most of these
veterans – almost exclusively from the Civil War - probably wound up
in the asylum because of untreated, war-inflicted post traumatic
stress disorder. In his eulogy, Afghan and Iraq War veteran Eric
Burke reiterated that theme as he spoke and then read from a eulogy
by Civil War veteran Oliver Wendell Holmes.
As in the 2010
ceremony, wreaths were placed on two graves – one of a veteran and
one of a non-veteran. Former Ohio Department of Mental Health
Director Sandy Stephenson and NAMI Ohio CEO Terry Russell spoke and
decorated the graves of Civil War Veteran Adam Kern and tailor/poet
Almon Edson. Descendents of both men were present at graveside.
Jill Hughes (great, great, great granddaughter of Mr. Edson), also said a few words.
At the end of
the ceremony, Peete Bowen said some words for the late Ridges
Cemeteries enthusiast, Harold Forest, as his friends sprinkled his
ashes along the Nature Trail around Peter Nagy Pond.
Adding to the
beauty and solemnity of the ceremony, a mixed Army/Air Force ROTC
unit performed various acts, Civil War re-enactors did a rifle
salute, the Hocking Valley Chorus sang four songs, and Vietnam War
veteran Caroline Cade played taps.
To see a video of
the event, click here.
Athens News coverage of the event click
Appalachian Behavioral Health
Care, 100 Hospital Drive, Athens OH 45701
Phone: 740-593-7424 e-mail: