Q: Hi, Peter,
This might sound strange but after visiting Paris' Pere Lachaise, I'd like to visit some more famous cemeteries. Do you have any suggestions?
- Josie Hawk, Portland, Oregon
A: Oh, yes, Pere Lachaise — the final resting place of Oscar Wilde, Gertrude Stein and The Doors' Jim Morrison. Josie, when you think about it, many of the world's great iconic sites like the Pyramids of Giza and the Taj Mahal are actually tombs. So, it's not so strange to try to reconnect and learn about the past by visiting burial grounds.
Take for example the American Cemetery and Memorial in Normandy, France (www.abmc.gov). Here you can pay your respects to the 9,387 American service members, most of whom died in the D-Day landings. And, the cemetery has WWII exhibits that tell service members' personal stories through text, photos, films, interactive displays and artifacts.
Another resting place worth visiting is St. Louis No. 1 in New Orleans, the oldest cemetery in the Big Easy. Known for its 600 closely spaced above-ground mausoleums, this cemetery will give you a history lesson you won't find in any museum. You'll see the tombs of Homer Plessy of Plessy v. Ferguson fame, 19th century voodoo priestess Marie Laveau, and Nola mayor Ernest Morial, the first African-American to hold the job. http://www.nps.gov/resources/site.htm?id=18953
Now, if you want to learn more about the process of life after death, the National Museum of Funeral History in Houston is another stop you should make. The museum features a huge collection of funeral artifacts and exhibits on topics, including historical embalming practices www.nmfh.org.
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