Posted at: 10/07/2012 11:04 PM
Updated at: 10/08/2012 7:47 AM
By: Katie Eldred
Graves at Rochester State Hospital Cemetery Now Have Names
(ABC 6 News) -- For years the thousands of graves in the Rochester State Hospital Cemetery sat labeled with only a number. But after a lot of hard work many of those graves now have names.
Sunday organizers that have worked hard to put these new gravestones in place paid tribute. Putting proper headstones on these graves isn't only about honoring those buried there, it brings up the issue of how we must treat everyone with dignity and respect.
This cemetery is the resting place for the thousands with disabilities that lived and died at the Rochester State Hospital. Just years ago it sat forgotten and originally the these graves were marked with only numbers.
"It's just awful," said Kelly Lee.
For Kelley Lee this poor treatment of those with disabilities is personal.
"It's very sad what they did to them with numbers, treating people with disabilities like they don't think, we have feelings and they don't think we have words," said Lee.
Now almost all of the graves have names and dates. Community members gathered to finally properly honor these lives.
"Last time I was here it was all over grown, and there was coffee cans filled with cement with numbers on them and that was it," said Senator Carla Nelson.
This site is just one of the many state hospital cemetery’s where there were no gravestones, but numbers.
"For these people who were assaulted and treated horribly to be given a number and never be spoken of again," said Halle O’Falvey.
As community members laid flowers upon these graves, they want others to learn from the mistakes of our past.
"We should make sure that it doesn't happen again and that we have human rights and civil rights and just make sure people are reminded," said Rick Cardenas.
While Kelley Lee was inspired by the hard work it took to honor these lives, she says the community still has a lot to learn.
"They should hear us cause we are the ones with disabilities, because we want to go someplace in this world too."
There are still a few hundred more graves stones that need to be put in place at the Rochester site as well as across the state. They hope to do that within the next few years.