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The Shades

τεθνήκαμεν. σώζετε δάκρυα ζώσιν. / We are dead. Save tears for the living. ¹

The Shades is Agincourt’s Protestant non-sectarian cemetery located at the east edge of the original town site. Odd that I’m willing, even eager, to engage its design, while I’m constitutionally unable to cope with The Square and its focus on the memorialization of War. Its name — The Shades — invokes a decidedly non-Christian mythological reference to the dead — “the spirit or ghost of a dead person, living in the underworld” — reaching back to the middle of the 18th century and its fascination with the beautiful, the picturesque, and the sublime. Subtle distinctions lost on most of us today. Indeed, cemeteries are little-visited at all by anyone under the age of fifty, except under duress.

I’ve imagined just one special interment at The Shades: Agincourt’s half-term mayor Edmund Fitzgerald Flynn and, some years later, his widow Amity Burroughs Flynn, a far more savory character than hizzoner. But their mausoleum is also far less romantic than the example pictured above, the former Medill McCormick tomb at Winnebago, Illinois.”² It’s time for me to tackle the larger, fuller story of Agincourt’s rhythms of death, burial and commemoration.

¹ Many thanks to Dr Carol Andreini for her translation into ancient Greek of this phrase, inscribed at the public entrance to The Shades.

² The McCormick tomb was designed in 1927 by architect Raymond Hood, far better known for his Art Deco and Moderne design. Vandalization of the tomb by teenagers seeking a place to drink caused the family to relocate the burials and destroy it in the 1970s.

 


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