|Slate gravestone in Worcester's Hope Cemetery |
In memory of Mary and Harriet Moore
Daughters of Mr. Wm and Mrs. Mary Moore
Mary died Sept 9th 1796 aged 3 years
Harriet died Sept 19 1796 aged 1 year
After the city's memorial this morning at Hope Cemetery, I crossed the cemetery road from the Grand Army of the Republic's section to the section where those who were originally buried in Mechanics Street Cemetery were reinterred. The flags there on Memorial Day are for veterans of the Revolutionary War, those who came home from their service and died often long afterward.
I was caught, though, as I often am, by the graves of children, like the one above for Mary and Harriet Moore, ages just 3 and 1, who died ten days apart in 1796. Given the spacing, it seems likely the same disease took them--there was a yellow fever epidemic in 1796, or smallpox was also raging, or any of the myriad of childhood diseases that regularly killed children could have taken them.
Yesterday, I was at the vigil for Candice Asare-Yeboah, a kindergartner at Gates Lane School, who died last week of injuries after she'd been struck by a car, along with her mother, over April vacation. Her kindergarten teacher told us at the vigil that Candice wanted to be a doctor. Her family said she talked of her "sisters" and "brothers" at school; she didn't know a stranger.
Today was the first of the funerals of those killed last week in Uvalde, Texas. Amerie Jo Garza was among those who had received her honor roll certificate earlier in the day; she used her cellphone she'd gotten for her tenth birthday to call 911 to ask the police to come during the massacre.
Smallpox has been declared eradicated. Yellow fever certainly still kills people internationally, but the last major epidemic of it in the U.S. was in 1905. A significant number of the diseases that killed children don't now due to childhood vaccinations. As was noted once a COVID vaccine for those over five became available, childhood death has driven research and policy changes over time.
Unless it means we inconvenience drivers. Then we have to fight like anything to get traffic patterns changed to prioritize the safety of pedestrians, including children.
Unless it means we regulate guns.