post (c) Doris McCraw


If anyone has followed my timeline on Facebook, they would have seen the post about the theft at Colorado Springs Evergreen Cemetery. Someone came in and stole the metal fencing from around a small grave in the pioneer section. The headstone, which was leaning against the fencing is now lying on the ground, having been damaged at some time in the past.

I’ve thought about this act of ‘violation’ since the event. It also brought back memories of working with delinquent teens. There were times during my conversations with those teens, while they were in lock-up, where I would ask them why they thought it was acceptable to take from others. Usually they would say something like, ‘I wanted it’, or ‘they had more than they needed’. When asked how they would feel if someone took their things, they would get defensive and say that no one should touch their stuff. There was a total disconnect from what they were doing and how it made them feel if it happened to them.

The grave that had the fencing stolen was from a young girl, Ida May Cumming, who died on August 6, 1879 in Manitou Springs, Colorado. Her parents were J. (John) F. Cumming and T. Cumming. He was a teamster according to the city directory. The newspaper gave her age as 5, but the record I found of the actual burial stated she was 3 years, 6 months and 18 days. There is no record of her parents burial in the cemetery.

The above event and memories bring up a feeling of frustration that respect has flown out the window. I agree, we can’t keep everything, but to lose history because someone wants what belongs to someone else hurts. Do people have no respect for that which is outside themselves because they have none themselves? Is it that they feel entitled? I don’t know. I do know somewhere something was lost, and perhaps it’s time we started bringing it back by showing and expecting respect for ourselves, others and our history.

One commenter on my page told of two young men who were caught being disrespectful and destructive in their local cemetery. They had to research and write about the people whose stones they had damaged, and present it to the public. Some may say, ‘they are dead, they don’t care’, but if we chose to not care, then what happens to our caring about the living?

Do I have the answer? No, but I feel by asking the questions I get closer to answers, and that is important. We can’t fix it if we don’t ask and listen for answers. It is not a one size fits all, except the part about respect. As Aretha Franklin sang, “All I’m asking is for a little respect”.

Angela Raines FB photo 
Doris Gardner-McCraw –

Author, Speaker, Historian-specializing in
Colorado and Women’s History
Angela Raines – author: Where Love & History Meet
For a list of Angela Raines Books: Here 
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16 thoughts on “RESPECT

  1. I have no answer either but I agree that when something is there to commemorate and event (like a child’s gravestone) it should remain as it was intended and not abused. I feel the same about ancient monuments that are defaced by grafitti- not respectful at all, Doris.


    1. Nancy, I can’t imagine the pain of seeing something so ancient being disrespected. I keep thinking and talking to folks in the hopes that it will sink in. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your experience. Doris


  2. You go Girl, you are spot on. It makes me sick to see the disrespect in our country, and it’s not coming from kids, or teens who don’t know any better, these are people with fully developed brains. People want to blame politics, but they need to be held accountable for their own actions, don’t pout tge blame on anyone or anything else. Only you can make up your mind to be respectful and decent. Thanks for this. Cher’ley


      1. I understand. While we can agree to disagree, it’s the respecting that is important, and the need to pass it along to the following generations. It is through dialoge that we can learn to respect history, people and ourselves. Thanks for adding to the conversation. Doris


  3. I love wandering in old cemeteries looking at the tombstones from bygone times, the ones with the epitaphs. When mom was living, we’d go up to the graveyards in Wayne County, Ohio, and visit the graves of our loved ones. Some I knew when I was growing up. Others passed away long before I was born. I feel such great reverence when walking in a cemetery. I feel it’s a proper thing to respect and honor the departed ones who set the standard for the kind of man I should be. They raised kids, and those kids grew up to raise their own kids — and eventually I joined the chain. And that’s what it is … a family chain of life. I guess when you perhaps have a terrible home life and no family visits to loved ones’ graves on Memorial Day to leave flowers, it gets reflected in one’s behavior in cemeteries after midnight.


    1. Great train of thought, and a lot of validity in what you say. It is a chain of life. I too feel a great reverence when I visit a cemetery. Such history and stories are told there. Thanks Mike. Doris


  4. It’s important to honor our dead. I think the judge did the right thing by making those kids write something about each person. They were living and breathing individuals and had families and friends. It’s awful that people disrespect like that. Thanks for the follow-up Barb


    1. You are welcome, Barb. I love when others add what has been done in their areas to help others understand and respect those who came before and their final physical home. Doris


  5. Spot on, Doris, spot on! Our society in general has lost respect so where are the kids going to learn it from? What they see play out on TV, in their own families and communities, in society at large… We’re traveling down a very sad path. Thankfully, there are people like you who are out there making a difference, showing why history is important, why people (living and passed) are important. Wonderful post, my friend!


    1. Thank you so much for the encouragement. History and the people who made it have been a passion my whole life. You can’t appreciate what you have until you realize what it took to get it. Doris


  6. I don’t understand the pleasure people get out of disturbing a cemetery. They’re almost sacred places to many people; perhaps that’s part of the reason they’re targeted. When I was very young, well before I started school, my mother took advantage of a story she heard about teens picking roses from a stranger’s yard to explain to me the issues involved; aside from its being wrong, taking what belonged to someone else–those roses were important to the owner; perhaps he was planning to give a vase of them to someone, or to enter them in a flower show, or just to look at them because they gave him pleasure. When you stole something, you weren’t just taking, you were hurting the person who owned the thing you took–even if it was just a rose. A related issue involved property lines: you didn’t go onto someone else’s land–farms and ranches were a focus–because it was their land, but also because there was valuable property on the land, and animals–and animals can be hurt–and farms are people’s livelihood. The Ten Commandments lay out what to do and what to do, but omits practical reasons. I don’t think we address the Whys nearly enough when we teach children how to behave.


    1. So well put Kathy. I confess, while thinking about the Whys, I myself don’t articulate it often enough. What a beautiful lesson your mother offered.

      I agree, the 10 commandments are great guidelines, but putting them into lessons on why is necessary. Thank you for adding another piece to the story. Doris


  7. Until a few years ago I lived close to an old cemetery. I enjoyed long evening walks among the stones. From time to time there were issues with vandals. I think if they were forced to research the individual who’s graves they had disturbed, it might have made a difference. Thanks for sharing.


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