In many places there are cemeteries of boundless beauty, manicured to perfection, and possessing awe inspiring landscapes. That is as it should be. Those features pay tribute to the burials there. This cemetery, lacking some of that appeal, holds a special place in my heart. It is my hope that the cemetery can be rescued from anonymity and once again recognized as hallowed ground.
My first visit to this cemetery was in 2003. At that time the prairie grass stood knee deep and the cemetery was set apart by four common metal fence posts. The restoration project has prompted those in positions of authority within the Army to be more careful about keeping the grass mowed. The four metal fence posts remain. Nothing else has happened since 2003.
When I first walked this small patch of sacred ground, I heard the echoes of the past in my mind. The echoes sounded of melancholy. I left footprints in the hollow of footprints laid long before those of mine. I allowed my mind to speculate about the ceremony given each of those buried here.
For the grieving families, time at this site was their darkest hour. They came to this place to rest the head of their loved one upon the lap of Earth. English and Comanche traditions were observed here woven together as the cloth that dried the tears of the living.
What has happened here makes us mindful of the responsibility we all have to our ancestors. There are certain values that do not change. Paying homage to those who have gone before us is one of those immutable values. We are the guardians of the dead. The community of the dead has no voice except yours and mine.
Beneath the roots of this tangled prairie grass sleeps the calm dust of those who came before us. As with all of us, each has a story to tell. These people experienced a way of life difficult for us to imagine. The deprivations they endured and their deaths in this place are integral to the history of Fort Sill and the immediate vicinity. Oh, how I wish we could catch a glimpse of the young children as they smiled their innocent smiles or sit at the feet of the storytellers and absorb the wonder of their lives. Such is not to be. We remember them nonetheless.
From time to time over last several years I have laid flowers on the graves of the Clark Twins. These are simple tokens of love and affection. These flowers decorating the graves represent no idle ceremony with me, to pass away an hour; but they bring back to mind in all their vividness the fearful conflicts and life changes that were happening to these people of the Plains after they had been gathered from their home land and forced to take up life on a reservation. The flowers and their poignant fragrance will wilt and be blown away by the winds. No wind, no matter how strong, can release me from my core values which require me to honor the dead.