Letters to the Editor - January 2007

Discrimination, Like Lost Cemeteries, is also Common

Dear Editor,

I think the reader who stated it is “exaggerating when you view [the loss of a state cemetery] as a slight to the disabled,” actually does a great job of making our case [“Lost Cemeteries Are Common,” Access Press, December 10, 2006]. To show how routine it is, she cites examples of lost cemeteries of African-Americans and Native Americans. These are also victims of discrimination, apparently not deserving of societal respect even in death. If the abandonment of cemeteries is common, then it only means a greater number of people have been discriminated against.

Here in Minnesota, it was state policy to bury people with disabilities in numbered graves in cemeteries out of the public view. And it is this institutional practice of disrespect and neglect that has led to the loss of the Rosemont Cemetery in Rochester.

Remembering With Dignity has been working for twelve years to hold the state of Minnesota accountable for the lack of maintenance and public access to state hospital cemeteries. We are asking the state to publicly apologize, acknowledge and take responsibility for naming the thousands of state hospital residents buried in numbered and unmarked graves. We hope that more people will join us in this effort.

Jim Fassett-Carman