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Coalition To Protect Maryland Burial Sites

Melvin Mason
President, Melvin Mason

President's Opening Message at the Annual Meeting
and Final Message as President, May 2012


Welcome to the 21st annual meeting of the Coalition to Protect Maryland Burial sites. We are pleased to have this wonderful venue for this meeting and I would personally like to thank the committee for the hard work and many hours they put into the preparation of the meeting.

We have a full schedule and will elect a new President and Vice President.  

In an article by Leslie Plummer in the local Anoka County Minnesota, Ms. Plummer set out to explain the historical value of cemeteries, this being the title of her article also.

In defining the value she states,  “Lives are commemorated; Deaths are recorded; Families are reunited; Memories are made tangible.”

Explaining that “burial grounds were often a parcel of the land owned by the family and used for their family burial plots". “When your ancestors sold their land parcels, they may have requested their graves be taken care of.”

<>She further explained how her searches and research were guided by the art and artistry and by the wealth of information contained on the stones.

She ended her article with “The next time you are driving on a county road and see a sign for a cemetery, stop and look for the oldest headstone – take a look at history, they are, perhaps your ancestors.”

CPMBS agrees with this definition and also has taken action to face the ongoing threats to these valuable cultural resources and sacred places.

It is not enough to just stop and look at a cemetery.

There has to be a program that protects these burial sites from destruction and oblivion.

As a group, we try to be the speakers for the abandoned, neglected, abused and destroyed sites. We try to act in such a manner that we can make a difference in the fate of a site.

We have had some progress, some successes. We have had more failures, more disappointments and more challenges than ever before.

The Coalition will not let these negatives stop us from fighting the good fight. We will take on those challenges that we can.

In honoring the Periwinkle Award recipients today we show that the fight is not lost; we have the will and where-with-all to accept the challenges facing the burial site today.

The awards go from the can-do projects that help preserve the integrity of a burial site with Justin Stein's work at the Riggs Family Cemetery to the far opposite extreme of destruction by Mother Nature with the Anchor of Hope Cemetery and by the destruction of man with the St. Vincent's Cemetery. 

David Zinner will help us along with Strategies to Protect Historic Maryland Cemeteries.

Awards and presentations alone cannot and will not protect burial sites. We must strive and strive diligently to face the ever increasing challenges.

Our best defense to the challenges is education. We must continue to educate the public on saving the sites, protecting the sites, and how to go about doing these things that need to be done in the protection of the sites.

We have to grow our membership and we have to grow our activities to match the challenges. We just cannot sit back and think that someone will do it.

I hope the Coalition continues to pursue the outreach opportunities and expand the opportunities to educate.


Post Script: At the Annual meeting, we were unable to fill the President and Vice President positions. With an organization of 90 plus members, these two positions should be easy to fill. I believe that our membership has several worthy candidates for these positions; all they need is a little encouragement to step forward. The By-Laws and Articles of Incorporation do not specifically address the lack of an elected President or Vice President, however, they do provide for elections outside of the annual meeting from either the membership or the board as necessary. I do believe that without leadership for an extended period of time, invocation of By-Laws Article XII may be in order.

 Archive of Presidential Messages

Coalition To Protect Maryland Burial Sites, Inc.* P. O. Box 1533* Ellicott City, MD  21041
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