Monday, October 26, 2009

Gowanda Unmarked Graves Restored

I thought this was an interesting story from today's Buffalo News. Volunteers have worked for the past two years to restore 1,200 anonymous graves of mentally ill patients from the Gowanda Psychiatric Center. They were buried between 1898 and 1994, when the center closed. If the person was a Protestant, the grave was marked with a wreath and a number. If the person was Catholic, it was marked with a cross and a number. Back in the past, the institutionalized were deemed 'not worthy' of a proper burial by the state and even some of their families. All records with the actual names of the deceased were lost after the hospital closed in 1994.

A group calling itself Operation Dignity has led the effort nationally along with People, Inc. locally. Also, students from St. Bonaventure University and Siena College are performing much of the physical labor which is being overseen by officials from the Collins Correctional Facility.
With all the negative stories we are bombarded with these days, here is a positive story. People could have simply forgotten about the deceased in this story. They didn't. It doesn't specify in the story but somewhere, someone decided they were going to make a difference and right this terrible wrong. Hats off to whoever that was.

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