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Dead Politicians, Doggies, and the Glories of Voluntary Preservation

September 4, 2007

Tags Big GovernmentMedia and Culture

Watching the late-night news yesterday revealed one terribly funny story.

Apparently, the Congressional Cemetery in Washington D.C. is owned by an Episcopalian Church and was given the "congressional" name because of the numerous members of Congress that were once buried there. It had been looking shabby and unkempt for years, and the news reporter seemed to imply that it was a little-known and rarely-visited historical site. The cemetery spokesperson — perhaps the owner — said that it had been difficult to keep out vagrants, criminals, gangs, and drug users — who were all using the cemetery for loitering purposes. Therefore, gravestones were left broken and the lawn remained unmowed.

Occasionally people would walk their dogs through the park, and over time, this became habit. Soon the cemetery became a purposeful destination point for a group of individuals walking their dogs. They organized and the group began to grow, and grow.........and grow. The place of dead politicians became a meeting ground for tail-wagging wonders and their owners. The dogs roamed the plots and romped the land, and the humans began to labor and care for their adopted dog park. This group of folks created 'adopt-a-plot' in order to entice people to help groom the cemetery. They planted flowers and trees and provide volunteers to water them in dry seasons. They have reset and repaired gravestones. They have compiled databases to help them organize the needs of the cemetery. The cemetery spokesperson noted that this is all to the good — the cemetery is blossoming like never before. It is now filled with beauty and caring humans and happy dogs. He is delighted.

One politician is upset, however. He is outraged that anyone should allow doggies to roam this sacred ground and pee on the sacred remains 'neath the ground. He called it "gross disrespect" for our great, former leaders. (Unfortunately, I do not remember this politician's name.) His goal is to have the dogwalkers and their hobby removed from the cemetery and have the government take over financial support of it. As he said, "It's only money. We can find the money to maintain this place."

Of course, the cemetery was long ignored by government because no one cared about the cemetery as an historical site. It was not maintained by its current owners because the resources to do so were not available to them. In stepped a voluntary group of people who found an alternative use for the property, and the utility they received from using the property exceeded the time and costs of their maintaining it. So the preservation effort became highly organized and the cemetery is now well-funded and very much cared for by the volunteers. Accordingly, the members of this group, the K-9 Corps, "pay an additional fee for the privilege of walking their dog in one of Washington, DC's great open spaces. K-9 Corps members provide about one-third of Congressional Cemetery's operating income."

Indeed, the glories of voluntary participation and private financial support. And some government bureaucrat that doesn't like where dogs go potty wants to put an end to it all.

As the story ended, the reporter pointed out where doggies like to relieve themselves in a cemetery, especially male dogs when they lift their leg: ahh, you guessed it. The headstones! As the camera spied a male dog going wee-wee with leg lifted, it was mentioned that J. Edgar Hoover was buried in that cemetery.

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