I posted this on the website/blog of Central Louisiana State Hospital Cemetery Preservation Committee. I am putting it here because I want everyone to know how the State of Louisiana values its citizens who have a mental illness. Apparently it is less than the people they lock up for murder, rape and child molestation.
I hope you all will take a moment to read this. It is a cause very dear to my heart. There are several people from Union Parish buried in this cemetery. It is an issue that everyone in Louisiana should be aware of.
I feel that I must begin this post with a disclaimer. What I am about to write is my own thoughts and words and mine alone. In this instance I am not writing as a member of the committee and I do not speak for the committee. These are the thoughts of a granddaughter.
I have been hearing a lot about the cemetery at Angola and decided it was about time I got more informed. Point Lookout Cemetery is located at The Louisiana State Penitentiary, also known as Angola. In 1927 a flood covered most of Angola and washed away the existing cemetery. After the flood waters receded, caskets and remains were strewn along the levee. They separated from the grave markers and it was impossible to identify anyone. Those remains were reburied at Point Lookout. It would later be discovered it was in a large, common grave. White concrete grave markers are arranged in military style rows. The grounds are immaculately maintained. At an area in the center of the cemetery no markers stand. Underneath lie the remains of those displaced by the flood and forever unknown. In September 2001 a memorial, standing just inside the cemetery entrance, was dedicated to the unknown buried there.
“Once a man dies, his sentence is complete and there should be dignity in the passing,” – Warden Burl Cain
Please keep in mind I truly believe that everyone deserves a marker on their grave. At the same time I can’t forget that Angola houses society’s most serious offenders — child molesters, murderers and rapists. Years ago, the prison stopped accepting anyone with a sentence of less than 50 years, meaning few will ever leave. These prisoners have a marker with their name on it. The ones who were affected by the flood have a memorial. The people buried at Central did nothing wrong. There are two babies buried there. What could they have done to be considered less worthy than a murderer? Yet they have nothing. Most people don’t care that almost 3000 people are buried there in unmarked graves. Most people can’t be bothered to give a small donation or offer a few hours of their time to help build a memorial.
And then there is the State of Louisiana. They will erect a memorial for prisoners while allowing a state hospital cemetery to go unkempt and become overgrown with waist-high grass, weeds and bushes. If Mr. Moreau had not found it, it would still be in that condition. And still no one cares.
People use the grounds of Central as a shortcut. Some pass through every day without ever giving the people who lived there and the one who are buried there a single thought.
When the state was considering closing Central and selling the grounds the citizens of Rapides Parish worried about the lost jobs and who would buy it, but no one gave the cemetery a thought.
The old dairy barn sits on a hill by a busy highway. People are always talking about the barn. They want to go inside. Some would like to buy it and turn it into a restaurant. Others complain because the state will not restore it. Those same people could care less about those 3000 forgotten people buried there.
There are people all over this county looking for grandparents or other relatives. They just want to find their grave. They can’t because they do not have a marker. There is nothing to say where their ancestors are buried. There are others that do know and are trying to help. But it will take more than a few families that care.
What is wrong with people? Where are their priorities? It is hard to believe that we have become so cold that something like this doesn’t bother us? How the people in the Alexandra/Pineville area can stand by and not help is beyond reason.