The Lee County Cemetery Preservation Commission (LCCPC) was created by the Alabama Legislature to rescue and preserve old, untended and imperiled cemeteries in Lee County and work with local groups for their upkeep. LCCPC is privately funded; no taxpayer money is used since most of these cemeteries are on private property.
One such imperiled cemetery in peril is Ross Cemetery on India Road in Opelika. In the past, LCCPC has sponsored limited clean-ups at Ross with some limited success. Community volunteers have supported these efforts. Unfortunately, problems existed and still are present. Neighbors use the right of way in front of the cemetery for dumping their yard debris. In July 2016, the City of Opelika placed “No Dumping” signs on the public right-of-way in front of Ross Cemetery.
In May 2016, a scout. Kyle Graddy, working to earn his Eagle Award, prepared a plan to clean up Ross Cemetery and give it the honor it deserves. His plan was approved. He started work by establishing a Kickstarter fund. Soon his funding needs exceeded his goal. He asked a horticulturist to evaluate the plants. Many were placed there by Desiree and Charles Sherrer, former neighbors who lived at 1700 India Road. Graddy made public service announcements that appeared on Montgomery and Columbus television stations. He has had a number of his young friends help with trash removal. He has cleared all of his activities with Opelika’s Solid Waste Department. He has sprayed with herbicide to remove much of the undergrowth. He made a walking path so families and visitors can have easier access through the cemetery. This work is still in progress.
However, the dumping has not stopped. On Sunday, February 5, 2017, there were four piles of rubbish on the city right-of-way in front of Ross Cemetery. A discarded water heater was standing in one of the trash piles. Two of the piles were in close proximity to the City’s “No Dumping” signs. What kind of message does this type activity send to the young scout, to the city of Opelika? Where is the respect for the souls at rest at Ross Cemetery?
Maybe these neighbors don’t realize there are nine marked graves of American Veterans at Ross Cemetery. There are many graves marked with rocks and many others that are only depressions in the earth. Those rocks and depressions are the only markings that tell a person lived on this earth. We may never know who they were. May we ask Ross Cemetery’s neighbors to be more respectable and discard their yard debris on their own property? How would they feel if their neighbors brought their yard trash to their yards?
In closing, there is a famous quotation that reads as follows:
“Show me the manner in which a nation or community cares for its dead, and I will measure with mathematical exactness the tender mercies of its people, their respect for the laws of the land, and their loyalty to high ideals.” William Ewart Gladstone (1809 – 1898) Four times Prime Minister of Great Britain.
What does this say about Opelika?