DEAR ABBY: I am writing in response to the letter you printed from "Respectful in Ohio" (July 25). I am so glad you addressed the subject of proper etiquette in cemeteries. The cemetery where my family members are buried has become a playground for the neighbors in the area. When I visit, I see people walking their dogs on and off leashes even though they are aware of the "No Dogs Allowed" signs. Children are bicycling, rollerblading and skateboarding, along with joggers and walkers.
I come to the cemetery to visit with my lost loved ones and tend to their graves. I find it disgusting and disturbing that these folks are using our sacred place for their personal pleasures. Abby, thank you so much for your wisdom on this matter. -- JEAN C. IN MASSACHUSETTS
DEAR JEAN: Thank you for agreeing with me. However, some readers felt differently, believing that cemeteries are for the living as well as the dead. My newspaper readers comment:
DEAR ABBY: You should know that there is a trend where groups of dog walkers are taking over the care of deteriorating cemeteries. In return for cleaning up, restoring and maintaining graveyards, dog walkers are given permission to walk and run their dogs there.
Some readers may find this practice disrespectful, but it has resulted in many cemeteries being restored to the beauty and dignity its occupants deserve. -- CARLA IN VIRGINIA
DEAR ABBY: When I read the letter from "Respectful," it took me back a few years. As I was mowing in the town cemetery, I went around a gravestone into some tall grass and my mower stalled. When I turned it over to see what I had hit, I found a pair of pantyhose wrapped around the blade of the mower. Apparently, cemeteries are sometimes used as a lover's lane. I agree with you about practicing good behavior in places like these. But I'll always laugh recalling what happened to me. I wonder if the lady who forgot her hose that night caught a cold. -- GROUNDSKEEPER
DEAR ABBY: I have to disagree with you and "Respectful." One needs to have a historical perspective about cemeteries and their place in our culture. Prior to the advent of public parks in the late 19th century, the only open, park-like setting in most communities was the local cemetery. People would stroll the lawns, picnic and socialize there.
Today, some cemeteries even conduct historical and nature tours. While I don't condone rowdy behavior, it's wrong to think they are simply for the dead and mourning. Many families of our fallen soldiers go to Arlington Cemetery to picnic and visit their loved ones.
Cemeteries fall into disrepair when they are not active and filled with living hikers, bikers, bird watchers, etc. Let's encourage people to visit their local cemetery. The alternative is to allow them to go to seed and disappear from our landscape. -- PATRICK H., OHIO
DEAR ABBY: Several years ago in a nearby church cemetery, a young couple and their 4-year-old were putting flowers on a relative's grave. The child got a bit antsy and climbed on a headstone. The stone was loose and tipped over onto the child and killed him. No one should let children play in a cemetery. -- JAN IN SARTELL, MINN.
DEAR ABBY: I want children to play on my grave. What could be better than spending eternity listening to the laughter of children? As for dogs, unless you are going to diaper all the pigeons, dogs are the least of my worries! -- ALANSON IN NEW JERSEY