Maybe the biggest takeaway from the Restlawn situation is that we can all see that the whole community cares about the cemetery.
The community is mostly made up of people in Huron and the rest of Beadle County, of course, but it also includes those who now live all across the U.S. and even in other countries. The emails, the posts on the Facebook groups, the TV and newspaper interviews, the phone calls—everything said about the state of Restlawn lets us know that the larger group is dedicated to turning things around.
As many have said, though, seeing this through will be complicated. When you pull on one thread—say, the upkeep issues, the missing or damaged markers, or the condition of the mausoleum—many other threads come along, too. They include the state of the endowed trust to pay for things going forward, the interpretation of South Dakota cemetery laws, the enforcement of those laws, and so much more.
These issues are pretty overwhelming. Just to be done with all of this, a person can feel like declaring a complete victory for the entire situation as soon as anything positive comes along.
It is important to stay optimistic. If we don’t believe that Restlawn can be restored, then what’s the point, right? But it’s also important not to quit too soon—and for the community to care about everyone who has been affected, even if our own personal complaint is eventually addressed to some extent.
Motivation for doing so can be found on the list of those who have been buried at Restlawn. If you haven’t already looked at this list, please take a few minutes to read through it:
All of us with Huron and Beadle County roots will recognize one person after the other. These were our neighbors who lived down the street, the schoolteachers who put up with our antics and taught us anyway, the doctors and nurses who invested so much dedication and heart to make sure our community was healthy, and many of our former town leaders. This list also includes the names of those who were gone far too soon; you look at some of those dates, and your heart just breaks.
In recent weeks, many people have made a special point to say that they are going to hang in there until the whole cemetery is returned to its former state, even if their own family’s marker is delivered or some other issue looks a little better.
This has to be the right way.