An obligation for respect

Published 8:42 pm Saturday, December 5, 2009

How soon we forget. How soon we move on, leaving behind the foundation that established such a strong community. How soon we let our ancestors down.

The story of the Rosemont Cemetery is a sad one, but unfortunately, not the only one of its kind. Historic cemeteries throughout the state and country are often left to be covered over by weeds, and headstones are left to crumble with time.

But, that does not have to be the case.

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Suffolk is a great city not because of city leaders, but because of civic leaders. Suffolk is a great city not because of decisions by government, but by those civic groups who see a need and step up.

Today, such a need is obvious.

Quinton Franklin has taken on this mission and, since the News-Herald first published a story about the condition of the Rosemont Cemetery, has heard from others interested in helping. It is sad to say that those who should be helping — the families of those buried at Rosemont — have not.

The owners of the cemetery say they do not have the money to fix up the cemetery, and city leaders have said it is not their place to do so. So in the vacuum of leadership by the owners or the city, Franklin has stepped in and is making a difference.

His mission deserves our support and deserves the support of community leaders throughout Suffolk.

This historically black cemetery is an important part of our city’s history, and some of the people buried there are among the key leaders who built this community.

Franklin and those who have called to voice their support will need to raise money and develop partnerships to help care for this cemetery long after the stories about it are done.

If this kind of neglect can happen to this cemetery, what will become of others within our city if those who own them don’t follow through with their obligations?

Whether in life or in death, people deserve our appreciation and our respect.

The current condition of the cemetery shows neither appreciation nor respect.