They come with dandelions, since dandelions are plentiful in the last week of May and may be picked with impunity. They arrive around 9:30 in the morning, and as they walk underneath the wrought-iron gate that is three and four times their height, they abruptly stop hopping or skipping or trying to step on the heels of the child in front of them.
Suddenly, they are attempting to behave like grown-ups. They disperse into small groups, but they walk slowly among the tombstones and markers, pausing when they see a name that they know, squatting when they discover a relative. The boys stand with their hands clasped before them, replicating the way they’ve seen their fathers and grandfathers stand, while the girls sometimes hold hands.
Every year on the first school day after Memorial Day, the children of the Lincoln, Vermont, elementary school walk about a mile from the red cedar building that houses the school to the village cemetery.
The result is a rambling parade through the village…They walk across the narrow bridge spanning the New Haven River and then past the line of Gothic Revival homes built a century and a half ago. They pass the gray clapboard general store and the brick monolith that serves as the town hall. Then they wander around the hill upon which sits a church built in 1863, and down the short street that once housed the village’s modest creamery…And, all along the way, they stop, bend down, and pluck the dandelions they will use to decorate the graves, many of which will have small American flags…MORE
Image: Library of Congress