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Josh Sorenson

Jackie Burr, Instructor

English 1010, Period 4

17 September 2017

An Afternoon Spent in the Cemetery

I ventured into the curious Herriman cemetery one Sunday afternoon in search of

something, although I wasn’t sure exactly what. I thought perhaps I would find sympathy for

those who have lost loved ones and receive a sense of gratitude for a life not touched by the sting

of death. Or possibly, see the names of those whose lives have been cut short and find motivation

to live life to the fullest. Although those findings proved true, what I experienced held to be

much more valuable and unexpected.

The September air, feeling more like late October, chilled my body as I walked toward

the center of the cemetery. With the exception of a mother and her three younger kids on the

opposite end of the cemetery, I was alone. I reached the center to find a memorial to the pioneers

who helped settle Herriman and veterans who fought for our country. To symbolize the

veterans, a metal statue of a young soldier stands proudly, holding a rifle in his right hand and his

helmet in the other. His brave stance contradicted the nervous demeanor of his face. It seemed as

though the United States called this young man along with many others to do a service they did

not feel ready for. Despite the possibility of death, thousands of veterans across the country

fought for our freedom along with the 74 Veterans of Herriman whose names appear on a plaque

next to the statue of the young soldier.


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Adjacent from the Soldier, stands a statue of a pioneer family. I made the effort to study

their faces in hopes of understanding the lives they had and the struggles they faced. The father

looked straight ahead and held a shovel and hat in one hand with his wife’s hand in the other.

Perhaps his shovel symbolizes a new beginning; a chance to leave an old life and find happiness

in a world that promised blessings. Or rather because it is a cemetery, the shovel could be a

memorial to the lives that were lost in pursuit of new beginnings. Courageous pioneers, who

many times weren’t able to receive a proper burial due to the dwindling energy of the company

or insufficient supplies, did what they could. His wife stands beside him, but her attention was

elsewhere. Her head was turned and her gaze was focused miles away, reflecting on family and

friends who were buried on the dusty trail leading to her new life. Her young boy clung to her

side with a hint of fear relying on his mother for physical and emotional needs as we all do when

we are of premature age. Next to the young boy stood the daughter with an infant in her arms.

Although her age was little more than the boy’s, she was caring for a child. Many times

daughters were left to care for the family when mothers were not able to. Bringing them into a

world of responsibility faster than many could handle. The statue of the family stands next to a

plaque with the names of the original 4 founders of Herriman, along with settlers before the year

of 1871.

I listened to the three flags in the center of the memorial flap loudly as I sat on a bench

that was cold to the touch, admiring the cemeterial environment. The tallest flag was an

American flag with colors of red, white, and blue waving proudly. It was accompanied by the

Utah flag on one side, boasting its yellow beehive in the center surrounded by navy blue, and the

Herriman City flag which depicted a Pioneer handcart on the other. The flags were positioned in

an oval shaped bed of flowers that smelled sweetly of new life before the desolate winter. I heard
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the mother I had previously seen, try in frustration to wrangle her three young children as they

raced along the road that divided the cemetery. I wondered at what point in those restless kids’

lives would they understand the sacredness of such a place as this.

The cemetery’s size surpassed my expectations. With plenty of green grass untouched by

headstones, an article titled, “Not much life left for Utah Graveyards,” says that the cemetery in

Herriman has enough space for at least fifty years before it will need an expansion. Considering

that the western side of the cemetery has yet to be filled, I think this cemetery has a bright future.

As I walked along the spacious grounds, I admired the variety and artwork of each of the

headstones. Intricate carvings of flowers and temples were displayed on many of the headstones.

While I studied the gravestones, I felt a swirl of emotions. Married couples who lived out their

lives together to now be resting peacefully with each other brought a sense of pride and

happiness. Infants that lived only a day caused me to contemplate the feelings of their loving

parents. Certain names jogged my memory with flashbacks of overhearing tragic losses in the

community from my parents and the news. One in particular that made an impact on my life was

Mitchell Dee Jones. I found his grave and immediately recognized his name. I was 13 at the time

of Mitchell’s passing and remembered his inspiring story and legacy. The Deseret News explains

how several thousand people around the world were inspired by Mitchell through his father’s

facebook page. “The page was started last summer by Mitchell’s father to keep family and

friends up to date on his son’s declining health and at last count had more than 33,000 followers.

The 10-year-old suffered from Duchene muscular dystrophy, a muscle wasting disease that

usually results in progressive muscle deterioration and is fatal by late teens/early 20s.” His grave

was a beautiful black marble color with a gorgeous bouquet of flowers to add to the memory of

an inspiring boy.
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I discovered something both unexpected and wonderful on that Sunday afternoon. I

discovered my community. Although it was always there as I passed it without a second thought

on my way to school, it waited patiently for the moment when I was ready to learn about the

place that raised me. Like a child seeing the world for the first time, my eyes were opened to the

struggles outside of myself. The pains of a soldier going to war at a young age feeling scared and

unprepared. Trials pioneers had to go endure to settle this city with nothing but a small wagon

carrying meager possessions. I have these ambitious individuals to thank for shaping the

community in which I live. Every grave within the cemetery made an impact on the city of

Herriman in some way, whether it was Mitchell Jones who reminded us that we can be kind in

the midst of hardships, or precious babies that bring us to our knees and help us realize the

delicacy of life. Cemeteries are the home of our loved ones. Uniting and inspiring the

community.

Works Cited

Manson, Pamela, et al. Not Much Life Left for Utah Graveyards. Utah Department of Health, 27 May

2013, archive.sltrib.com/article.php?id=56321559&itype=CMSID.
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Madsen, Candice. “Mitchell Jones' Journey Ends; Herriman Boy Followed by Thousands Online Dies

at Home.” Deseret News Utah, Deseret News, 2 Mar. 2013,

www.deseretnews.com/article/865574684/Mitchell-Jones-journey-ends-Herriman-boy-

followed-by-thousands-online-dies-at-home.html.