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Weekly e-Gram for members and friends of Dublin Community Church

December 21, 2012

BY ANY OTHER NAME

There is tremendous power in one’s own name, given at birth by parents who have hopes and dreams for their child’s life. I also think there is tremendous power in names when they remain, long after the bearer of that name has passed on.

A number of years ago when I was in college, my great aunt told me of a little family cemetery on the west side of town. A couple friends and I went out there and spoke to the owner of the house in front of the cemetery, which was located on her back property. I told her that I was related to all the deceased, and could we go see it; and she said yes, and we did… and a neighbor looked out her window and called the cops and we were nearly arrested.

But, the law officer was kind and when he saw how non-threatening we were he shook our hands and drove off. We wandered around the old cemetery, which had slab type tombstones. The names were new to me, but they were my relatives (this was on my mothers’ side and the name was “East”). Twenty years later, I went back and nearly all the tombstones were knocked down; their names on the slabs propped up against trees. A few years later, a big box store wanted the property and agreed to move the remains (if there were any after 100-150 years or more of burial). As one of the last living relatives, Mom agreed to have it moved and the remains and names were relocated to another county cemetery.

I never knew any of them, but take comfort that I, of all people in the world, know they existed and where their meager earthly remains are deposited. Their names are carved on a granite marker and I have a picture of it.

My friend’s mother died and the deceased wanted her cremains scattered over the mountains and in the ocean. He asked what I thought. It was fine with me, if that was her wish. It’s dignified and I believe that the dead rest easier when their departing wishes are honored (assuming the wishes are within reason). But I suggested that somewhere on this earth, a plaque of brass or a simple etching of stone be created with his mother’s name. And that the plaque or stone be placed in some appropriate place: a forest, a riverbank, a church or public garden. I don’t see how anyone can leave this earth without at least one’s name being etched on something permanent; something that later generations can visit and touch. We see the power of the engraved names on the Viet Nam Memorial in Washington D.C. or a scholarship memorial on a church or school wall.

I have many, many thoughts on the killings in Connecticut last week. It will take time to sort them out, but in all the reams of print and web pages which I read about the incident, the most powerful was the printing of the children’s names. The adults have a special place in my heart also, for all of them died defending those children. But for this moment, permit me to print twenty names of the children. All of them only 6 or 7 years old.

Charlotte, Daniel, Olivia, Josephine, Dylan, Madeleine, Catherine, Chase, Jesse, Ana, James, Grace, Emilie, Jack, Noah, Caroline, Jessica, Avielle, Benjamin, Allison.

Names have such power.

Peace, Rev. Bob Tussing

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