We so wanted to attend a local vigil for George Floyd yesterday – the day of his memorial service -- but because of our concern for the coronavirus and social distancing, we didn’t. Instead, I embarked on my own morning vigil honoring Mr. Floyd with a visit to our town’s little cemetery, next to the park where the vigil would be held.
The small space is sandwiched between a tiny residential street to the west and the park to the east. Old oak trees shaded me as I walked amongst gravesites and headstones dating back to the late 1800s chiseled with details of loved ones lost. The only other person there was a man in his 80s walking with a cane.
From its hilltop over the park, I saw the public swimming pool and the silhouette of the San Gabriel Mountains. I’ve always loved roaming through cemeteries because they tell the story of a place. I will never forget when, while on a media tour in Ireland’s rugged County Kerry in the south (Jacqueline was with me), I asked the bus driver to stop briefly at a small cemetery off the country roadside. He accompanied me to the grounds and as I stood quietly beside fresh flowers laid on a mother’s grave, the driver who was standing somewhere behind me, began reciting the famous war poem, “In Flanders Fields,” written during the First World War by John McCrae, a Canadian army doctor. There are no words for that poignant moment.
In the afternoon, Louie and I decided to drive to the park to check out the vigil activity. We made a quick stop in town to pick up something. That’s when we ran into a mother and her six-year-old twin daughters carrying their hand-made hot pink “Black Lives Matter” signs. “I thought the vigil was at the other park,” the friendly mom said as she and the girls began heading east to Sierra Vista Park less than a mile away.
At the park, people were still lingering in small groups, including police officers chatting with attendees. “There were about 300 people,” an officer told me. Social distancing? He said they did the best that they could do. We couldn’t help but feel hopeful seeing so many young people come together in solidarity for human rights.
After the park visit, we took Louie’s car for a longer drive to Pasadena because, as we have been sheltering at home, his car had not been driven for a while. Along the way were more signs calling out for justice.