January 01, 2020

Burial at Sea: Maryland’s Historic Cemeteries at Risk

Terra Bowling

Benjamin Franklin is widely quoted as having said, “Show me your burial grounds and I’ll show you a measure of the civility of a community.” See, e.g., Mt. Washington Cemetery, Cemetery Index.com, http://cemeteryindex.com/wordpress/featured-cemeteries/mt-washington-cemetery/. Many coastal burial grounds are at risk of being inundated before they can be protected or even properly recorded. Maryland, as a low-lying coastal state with many gravesites dating back to early American history, has its share of vulnerable cemeteries. While shoreline communities and residents may migrate inland or receive government assistance to prevent or repair impacts from coastal storms, flooding, or erosion, historic cemeteries may not have these same safeguards. Landowners may lack the proper funds or interest to preserve a cemetery or even be unaware that a cemetery is located on the property. Communities have a chance to show their civility by taking steps to preserve the history and dignity of these burial grounds before they disappear.

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