Students from Castle Dale Elementary decorate the graves at Castle Dale cemetery. Hanna Huntington watches as Aidree Otterstrom places the flower.
Castle Dale Elementary students place flowers on all of the graves at the Castle Dale Cemetery. Students include: Teryn Allred, Mistie Baird, Andie Curtis, HaiLee Daniels, Bree Hazel, Hanna Huntington, Sophie Huntington, Kailey Jackson, Alyssa Longmore, Teah Lowrey, Emelyn Oliverson, Aidree Otterstrom, Kaylee Price, Summer Rhees, Stephanie Sasser, Claire Yost, Brenden Johansen, Jace Jorgensen, Kord Kelsey, Bret Olsen, Peter Ouzts, Caleb Rubio, and Daniel Stinson.
With around 40,000 handmade flowers in their baskets, volunteers in Carbon and Emery counties achieved last week what no other communities in the nation do. During Memorial Day week they decorated the grave of every person buried in the two county area.
After months of work by more than 1,400 people making flowers, organizing operations and actually putting flowers in the ground, Castle Valley residents can be very proud of themselves.
"I can't get over how this project has grown in three years," said Richard Shaw, Publisher of the Sun Advocate and Emery County Progress. "It just shows how much people in our two counties care about their communities."
While the Sun Advocate and Emery County Progress supported the entire operation, the project did become truly a community project as church groups, civic groups, businesses and individuals made the operation their own.
As flowers piled into the Sun Advocate and Emery Progress offices last week, there were some questions about the future of the project.
"I can't imagine us not doing this year after year," said Shaw. "For some people it seems it has become a ritual, particularly in some club and civic organizations. They find it fun and rewarding."
Shaw says that one of the things he observed during the No Grave Unadorned project is the poor condition some of the outlying cemeteries are in.
"I visited some cemeteries I had not seen before this year," he said. "I went out and decorated in the Woodside Cemetery last week on Sunday and that cemetery needs some real work. The fence around it is good and intact, but there is a lot of wood scattered around and outside some of the family fenced areas the graves are hard to find. Some have stones, others have just wood markers. A lot of those are rotting away. I hope in some small way our contribution to the small outside-the-populated-area cemeteries is making things better."
Shaw says announcements about next year's project for Memorial Day will come out after the end of this current year.
"I hope to introduce some new wrinkles to the project next year, maybe something special to honor veterans who have died," he said. "I think we would like to form a committee of a handful of interested people from both counties to come up with some new ideas and maybe some ways we can do even more for those that went before us."
Readers who are interested in joining in such a committee can contact Shaw at 435-637-0732 Ext. 23.