200 Broken Headstones

From an original reporting of “dozens” to up to 200 headstones. “Damaged” — knocked down, sliced off near the base, marble and stone cut like flesh; even stone isn’t immortal. When we say damaged we mean desecrated, like Native American streams polluted with oil: kinds of marring that repairs can never fully cleanse. There’s a longer pulse to brokenness.

Proximity — spiritually, geographically — means reading about this event ranges widely in tone and meaning, from local friends’ sharing their poignant personal connections to the cemetery to the national coverage. At first I admittedly didn’t feel the full weight; unlike rivers providing water, old cemeteries feel more symbolic. Yet, the more I reflect on the significance of this crime, the more I’m struck by what it truly means to desecrate a resting place: to signal to living people, through vandalism of where their ancestors lie, that they’re not safe even in death. It’s not as far off from the bomb threats as I would’ve expected — a kind of everlasting terrorism. Repairs will still mean remembering with anachronistic stone, more distant from the person’s blessed memory; they’ll remain a reminder of the crime that disrupted their resting peace. To be told you’re not safe, even in death. Imagine that.

But solidarity demands a disruption in this sadness. The outpourings of love and support I’ve seen, from Muslims, Christians, and atheists alike, are truly deep salves for this moment. Perhaps meaningful enough to rewrite the reminder of repaired headstones:

here is the stone your neighbors brought you; here is the communal act of guarding your memory.
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