There’s an aphorism hanging out there that says, “everything is public relations.”
No doubt there’s some truth in that saying. Whether you’re campaigning for political office, trying to convince people to buy what you’re selling or even raising money for a good cause, you’re often trying to frame the story in a manner most favorable to you.
But certainly, some things lend themselves much easier to public relations campaigns than others.
The graves at Bates Allen Park and nearby Oak Hill Cemetery are just a few examples of such a thing.
Check out our front page story this week for more details about the history of the graves and how they came to sit in their current condition. But suffice it to say, visiting the site is an eye-opening experience.
The Fort Bend Star has been covering this particular story for almost a year now, and almost from the beginning, we’ve wondered how something like this could have happened.
The answer, as is so often the case, boils down to money and resources. Simply put, the graves in Kendleton are hardly alone in needing maintenance and attention. County experts have told the Star that more than half of the 170 cemeteries in Fort Bend have been abandoned.
This editorial isn’t meant to criticize anyone or blame county leadership for allowing these cemeteries to fall into disrepair. No doubt, it is the job of any elected official to keep a close eye on the county’s budget and make sure every tax dollar is going to good use.
And while no official figure exists to estimate exactly how much it would cost the county each year to maintain the abandoned cemeteries, there’s no question it would be an almost insurmountable amount of money.
Rather, what this editorial aims to do is point out that in today’s divided and bitterly partisan day-and-age, maintaining the graves at Bates Allen Park and Oak Hill Cemetery might be one of the few winners across the political spectrum.
For some county residents, these are loved ones buried here, or ancestors of loved ones. And no doubt we would all rest more comfortably knowing that someone out there is looking out for their memory.
Beyond that, this is our county’s history. Benjamin Franklin Williams might be the most notable name buried out there, but several graves date back to the 1820s.
As visitors walk among the trees and stones out at Oak Hill Cemetery, it’s hard not to think about what was happening during the lifetime of those resting there. Some would have seen the Civil War come and go. Others would have lived through World War I.
There’s much talk today about the importance of preserving both the good and ill of American history. And much of it is geared toward the famous sites, relics and statues that best represent the popular history of an era.
But for my money, there are few things more immediately personal than wandering in a well-maintained cemetery and communing for just a moment with the generations that came before us.
We here at the Fort Bend Star hardly think we’re alone in feeling this way.
It might not make sense to spend taxpayer money on cemeteries. But former U.S. Rep. Pete Olson is correct. Surely there are enough people passionate about history in Fort Bend County to generate some donations for such a worthy cause.
At the very least, we should all be doing our best to keep those buried in county cemeteries alive in our memory.
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