As Memorial Day approaches things are happening around the Town of Newbury. Flags for the veterans’ graves have been ordered, walks around the ceremonies have been and are being conducted, and for the first time ever – veterans graves are being cleaned and reset (if needed).
A newly formed group, Preserving Newbury, which consist of the volunteers who spearheaded the much need major clean up project at the First Parish Burying Ground. Since handing over the day-to-day upkeep and maintenance work back to the First Parish Church – these volunteers still wanted to continue doing preservation work, and work preserving the past, the future and the history of Town of Newbury.
Preserving Newbury was formed in January 2017, and is already hitting the ground running. Several projects are already in the works, and a couple fundraising events are being organized. This includes the yearly ‘Wreath Across America’ project that has taken place in Newbury the last couple of years, and the Flag Disposal Box at the Byfield Fire Department.
This year Preserving Newbury is building on their foundation – ‘Honor and Respect’. Flag Disposal Tubes are being set up through cemeteries in Newbury for old grave markers flags (rather then finding them in trash barrels.) On average 900 flags are place through the burying grounds and cemeteries in Newbury. These flags are placed by the Veterans’ Grave Officer and the Newbury Fire Department on Firemen Sunday. These tubes are an expansion off the Flag Disposal Box in town, and provides a way for the flags at the cemeteries to be respectfully disposed of. When shown to the Newbury Board of Selectmen, Chairman Geoff Walker said ‘these tubes are genius – you should patten them. You would probably make a ton of money on these. This is a problem not just in our cemeteries in town but at cemeteries across the country. They’re a great idea. Thank you!’
With Memorial Day approaching and the fact that May is Preservation Month Preserving Newbury hosted a workshop in conjunction with Histroic Gravestone Services. This workshop was held at the South Byfield Cemetery and members of the South Byfield Cemetery Committee joined us. We were taught how to properly assess burial sites and condition gravestones, reset – if needed, and the proper way to clean them. There are things that could go wrong if not done properly. The last thing that needs to be done is damage to a gravestone. South Byfield Cemetery was chosen by Preserving Newbury as the best location in town to host this workshop cause the basic needs are already being address; such as mowing and weed-whacking. With the basic needs being addressed – we can move on to the next level on care; Presevation.
Our instructor Ta Mara Conde, owner of Historic Gravestone Services stressed the importance on using only ‘water, water, water – and elbow grease’ to clean headstones. Using just water is the safest way to clean headstones and minimize the risk of doing an harm to the headstone. ‘Cemeteries are an extremely dangerous place’ Ta Mara expressed stating that ‘on average 12 are killed a year in cemeteries’. There are many hazards in cemeteries and more so when you are working there. Gravestones are extremely heavy, some weighing in the upwards of several hundred pounds. Leaning on or putting your weight on them could cause them to tip over, crushing your foot or yourself. She expressed ‘never lean on gravestones and always carefully check to see if the grave is glue to the base’ as she carefully demonstrate how one would perform such checks. In addition to gravestones, working at the cemetery causes you to have additional tools ‘it’s important to know what’s around you at all times – make sure you know where you tools are and keep in mind where other gravestones maybe around you.’ Caution for yourself and the gravestones are always the number one priority when at a cemetery.
Support for this workshop expanded beyond the committee of the South Byfield Cemetery. Local businesses such as Pearson Hardware and Domino’s Pizza extended their support as well. We hope to continue to work with local businesses to continue improvement projects in town. Coming together as a community and making a difference can be more then just doing physically labor work. Local businesses can provide support in a huge way; rather its donating a few items, giving a discount on a purchase or donating a few pizzas for lunch. Every little bit makes a bit difference. Later this year, Preserving Newbury will be teaming up a new local business, Saintly Cider, and be conducting an educational fundraiser. When we come together as a community we can achieve great things.
Speaking of coming together, it’s that time of the year, Memorial Day. Flags for Memorial Day are going to be placed starting May 21 – May 29th. Given the amount of flags that need to get placed and the process of checking / verifying our records so no veteran is missed we allow several days to place our flags. If you or someone you know is interested in helping please contact Don (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Tracey (email@example.com). Also, a new site for Preserving Newbury is underway. This site will serve as a hub for all information on upcoming projects, fundraisers and ways you can support and get involved. Please check us out at http://www.PreservingNewbury.com