It was an absolutely beautiful day today. The sky was the bluest it has been in a long time, the temperature was perfect, and the leaves were starting to show some color on those trees that haven't been affected by the blight. All in all, a glorious New England autumn day to take off out of work a few hours early to go on the "Graves and Heroes" Walking Weekend Tour of the Yantic Cemetery.
As those who read this blog will recall, Yantic Cemetery is my very favorite cemetery and I was really quite excited at the prospect of being able to learn some of the history of the people buried there for I'm sure that every grave has a story. I had been wanting to go on this particular event for several years but always had to work and couldn't find anyone to come in early for me but this year I was able to get coverage and was delighted that the day had turned out so beautifully.
I arrived at the cemetery with plenty of time to spare and after signing in (something about insurance purposes) I took my copy of the hand-out and waited with approximately 30-40 other people for the tour to begin. I had mentioned the tour to Frank from work so he and his girlfriend, Dawn, joined me just before the "walk" began.
The gentlemen conducting the tour introduced themselves and then proceeded to read from the hand-out that we had been given. I thought, well, okay, perhaps the introduction is a little dry but I'm sure it will get better once we get moving and can see some actual graves of Civil War heroes from Norwich. All told there are 375 Civil War veterans buried in Yantic Cemetery. Amongst them are five generals and one admiral along with William Buckingham, Connecticut's Governor during the Civil War. In addition, the grave of Lafayette Foster, Vice President of the United States following the assassination of President Lincoln can be located there. A very impressive line-up indeed!
We finally moved from our spot in front of the cemetery and walked to our first grave which was that of Major General Henry W. Birge, Norwich's highest ranking officer. While we stood gathered around his modest grave, the gentleman leading the tour again started reading from the hand-out that we were all holding in our hands. As he read, I watched the people around me start to fidget and glance around the cemetery at other graves and other places; some started to break away from the group and walk around on their own; one actually laid down on the grass and looked for all the world like she was settled in for a nice nap.
I leaned over to Frank and commented that this was not what I was expecting, that I had been hoping that the tour would be led by someone who had a good grasp of the history of the place and its inhabitants, that I would be learning more than what was already typed out on the papers in my hand. To put it simply - this was boring - completely and totally boring. Frank said that the guy sounded like a nervous fifth-grader reading his history report - a badly written history report at that!
Eventually what was left of the group moved a few feet over to the next grave and again information was read from the hand-out. That was it, we'd had enough - myself, Frank, and Dawn had completely lost interest in the tour and instead branched out on our own. I showed them the graves that I thought were the most interesting while we took our own walk through the back half of the cemetery. Apparently we weren't the only ones who had lost interest as there were small groups of people walking around on their own in all areas.
Now, while I would enjoy any opportunity to walk around in Yantic Cemetery, particularly on a glorious Fall day, I have to admit that I am very disappointed in the way this "tour" turned out. It was nothing like I thought it would be and the knowledge that I had hoped to gain was not to be found. I've been told that some of the Walking Weekend tours that they have are absolutely fantastic but apparently this wasn't one of them. That's not to say that it was a complete waste of time for I did get a poorly typed, misspelled in many places, batch of papers to use as research material on my own and that's not something I had before!
Once again, though, I am reminded that so many things in life don't live up to the hype that proceeds them. So many things sound good or look good but they just don't turn out the way that we expect them to. Perhaps that's the problem with expectations - we expect too much from them.
Oh well, there are worse disappointments. I just can't think of any right at the moment!