• Why Taps is Played at a Military Funeral

    A veteran’s funeral is full of symbolism and reverence, befitting a hero who put country before life and honor before comfort. That’s why a military funeral traditionally features a flag-draped casket, an honor guard and the firing of a rifle volley.  

    But why is taps part of the tradition? 

    “Taps” has an interesting origin rooted in the Civil War. Bugle calls have long been used to communicate with soldiers in the field, indicating times to wake up, eat, report for drills, return to their units and so on.  

    Starting in about 1835, a bugle call known as “Extinguish Lights” was played at the end of the day to let soldiers know it was time to go to bed.  

    In 1862, United States General Daniel Butterfield decided he was dissatisfied with that particular bugle call. He wanted to come up with something more melodious, so he reworked an existing call known as “Scott Tattoo” into the 24-note tune we know today as “Taps”. It wasn’t known as “Taps” until 1891, but under the name “Extinguish Lights,” it quickly became popular throughout the Army, and even the Confederates began to use it.  

    Shortly after this, “Taps” was played for the first time at a military funeral. A Union cannoneer had been killed in action, and his commanding officer, Captain John Tidball, didn’t want to have the traditional firing of three rifle volleys over the soldier’s grave because he feared it would give away their position to the enemy. Instead, he asked the bugler to play “Taps.” Since then, this haunting bugle call has been a staple of American military funerals. When it’s played, it’s customary for those in uniform to salute and for all others to place their hands over their hearts.  

    At Evergreen Mortuary and Cemetery, we offer veterans’ funerals with full honors, including taps. If you’re planning a funeral for an honorably discharged veteran, talk to us about all we have to offer, from a complimentary burial space in selected areas to a free bronze Veteran’s memorial provided by the Veterans Administration. Immediate family members of veterans may also be eligible for discounts. For more information, call us at (520) 257-4831 or follow the links on our Veterans’ Services page.

  • Interesting Cemeteries Around the World 

    If you enjoy visiting cemeteries, you might be surprised that there are so many around the world to explore. More than final resting places, they are often the only green spaces for miles around. They’re also touchpoints for the community, serving as public parks, sacred spaces and even tourist destinations.   

    Planning a trip sometime soon? Consider this list of notable cemeteries when making your travel plans. 

    • Père-Lachaise- Paris, France: Established by the emperor Napoleon in 1804, this cemetery is interesting primarily because of all the people who are buried there. The list of who’s who includes writers (Balzac, Proust, Richard Wright, Oscar Wilde, Gertrude Stein, and Alice Toklas); singers (Maria Callas, Edith Piaf, Jim Morrison); artists (Delacroix, Ingres, Modigliani, Corot and Seurat) and composers Chopin and Bizet.  
    • Merry Cemetery- Sapanta, Romania: The hundreds of graves at Merry Cemetery are painted blue, adorned with a carved oak cross, and decorated with a scene depicting the life of the person who has died as well as an accompanying poem. The carpenter who carves the markers also composes the poems — and some of these even contain jokes.  
    • St. Louis No. 1- New Orleans, Louisiana: The water table in New Orleans makes above-ground tombs a must, and this beautiful property feels like a city of white-washed crypts. Some have statues, some feature wrought-iron gates, and one hosts the cemetery’s most famous resident: 19th-century voodoo priestess Marie Laveau. 
    • La Recoleta Cemetery- Buenos Aires, Argentina: This major tourist attraction in Argentina’s capital city is surrounded by a wall and filled with elaborately carved tombs and Italian statuary, making it resemble a city within the city. It was founded in 1822, and many famous people are buried there, including Eva Perón.  
    • Old Jewish Cemetery- Prague, Czech Republic: Used continuously from the beginning of the 15 th century until 1787, this cemetery is unusual in that it expanded upward rather than spreading out. It’s estimated that 100,000 people are buried there, but with 12,000 tombstones on top of all the others.  
    • Highgate Cemetery- London, England: Highgate feels as much a nature reserve as a final resting place. Trees, shrubs and flowers grow wild, sheltering native wildlife including foxes. Monuments date back to 1839 and mark graves of such notables as George Eliot, Karl Marx and Malcolm McLaren.  
    • Bonaventure Cemetery– Savannah, Georgia: Notable for being featured on the cover of John Berendt’s best-seller, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, this lush cemetery was once a plantation. There are 100 acres to explore, with southern Gothic-style tombstones amidst ferns, flowers, dwarf palmetto, and long moss trees. It’s beautiful and haunting, and well worth taking a walking tour or just exploring on your own.  
    • Waverly Cemetery- Sydney, Australia: Many famous Australians are buried here, but the best part of the Waverley Cemetery is its cliff-top view. The cemetery, which opened in 1877, sits on 40 acres overlooking the South Pacific. 

    Like those listed above, Evergreen is in a category of its own. The cemetery’s rich history began in 1907 when burials inside the city were prohibited and many from the main cemetery were relocated. Today, Evergreen hosts many of the pioneers who settled this area.  

    Feel free to contact us for a tour or call 520.257.4831 to learn more about the services we offer.

  • Putting a Price on End-of-Life Care

    There’s a perception that end-of-life costs are higher in the United States than in other countries. But while end-of-life care and funeral arrangements are expensive here, they are comparable to Europe and Canada. Without careful planning, however, these costs can still be a burden on families.  

    Fortunately, it’s possible to be proactive and cut costs.  

    • Don’t avoid talking about death. It can be a difficult topic, but death is something families should discuss. If your family is well informed about your wishes and kept abreast of important information and where it’s stored, they’ll be better able to manage your end-of-life arrangements, saving time and possibly money. If you take the next step by preplanning well in advance, you can knock down costs by locking in today’s prices for a future need. 
    • Talk about what would happen in case of illness or accident before it happens — and prepare an advance directive. When your loved ones know when you would want to let go, they can make better-informed decisions. Medical care is expensive, so make sure they know if there are measures that should be taken to extend your life.  
    • Ask questions of your loved one’s doctor. Sometimes, families can be overly optimistic about costly treatments that they think will prolong a loved one’s life. If you are caring for someone who is ill, ask the physician to tell you the truth of what you and your family are facing.  
    • Talk to others who have been down this road. People who have been through what you’re going through now may be able to answer some of your tough questions. Which interventions are helpful, and which are not worth the cost and the trauma? It depends on the illness and condition of the person at the end of his or her life. CPR, for instance, is a life-saving measure, but it can also cause blunt-force trauma in elderly patients — and studies have shown that only 6% of cancer patients who receive CPR recover enough to leave the hospital.  
    • Don’t be afraid to shop around for palliative care. Some palliative care and hospice services are covered through Medicare. Others can be quite expensive. Be an informed consumer, and thoroughly research your options before making a commitment.  

    At Evergreen, we understand the importance of making good end-of-life decisions. Call 520.257.4831 to learn more about all we have to offer.

  • Bagpipes to Brahms: Musical Options to Memorialize a Unique Life Lived

    When you think of funeral music, what comes to mind? It may be hymns and other traditional pieces, but it doesn’t have to be. Some religious services require that song choices be specified, but in most cases, you can choose whatever moves you. 

    You can also choose interesting instrumentals. Just as song choice is typically fluid, there are many options for musical performers at a funeral, including:  

    • Harp: Harp music has an ethereal, serene quality that makes it a soothing and comforting choice for a funeral. This ancient instrument is well suited to classical music, religious music, or anything that’s peaceful and calming.  
    • Strings: Classical music, whether played by a string trio, a quartet or a chamber ensemble, can be very comforting and peaceful. It can also be stirring to elevate the mood. 
    • Bagpipes: Bagpipes have long been a traditional funeral option for dignitaries and first responders. The music is unusual and the mournful, haunting sound is well suited to a funeral. 

    At Evergreen, we offer various musical options including bagpipes, a string trio, and a harpist to help create meaningful, life-honoring ceremonies. You can also choose special music for a loved one’s funeral or preplan for your own future needs so that the music you love will be featured. Choosing your own music, readings, speakers, displayed mementos and special services will help reflect your personality and the life you’ve lived.  

    At Evergreen, we understand the importance of end-of-life arrangements because we’ve been helping families make them for more than 40 years. Serving families has always been our focus, and we take pride in guiding them through a difficult time in their lives. 

    Call 520.257.4831 to talk about preplanning and inquire about our Signature Services℠.

  • The Power of Affirmation

    When someone has suffered a loss, it can be helpful to have positive words to contemplate and perhaps to lighten our spirits.  

    Daily affirmations have been shown to be beneficial in many ways. Meditating on positive thoughts each day can help you put your problems into perspective and look at life in a more optimistic way. Recent research from the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston shows that optimistic people are at a reduced risk for heart attack, stroke and other cardiovascular events. In a way, you could say that daily affirmations are good for your health.  

    Of course, it’s hard to think positively when you’re grieving the loss of a loved one. That’s why it’s good to have a support system in place with people who will lift you up and help you through this difficult time. If you need a bit of extra support, Evergreen is here to help. 

    Our online grief support is available 24/7 so you can access online counseling services, join in grief support or watch interactive videos.  

    We also invite you to sign up for our Letting the Sun Shine In daily e-newsletter full of affirmations and gentle reminders of the recovery process. We know you’ll have good days and bad days, times when you need help and times when you can see better days ahead. Through it all, we want to be your daily companion.  

    At Evergreen, our focus has always been to serve those who are grieving. We feel it is our privilege to provide support to people who have suffered a loss and help guide them through a very difficult time in their lives. Whether you’ve recently lost a loved one or are having trouble finding the positive side of life, we’d like to be there for you. Subscribe to our daily newsletter or call 520.257.4831 to learn about all the services we offer.  

  • Hunting History Among the Headstones

    Genealogical research is becoming a popular activity, with more people than ever trying to uncover their families’ histories. There are a host of websites that allow for searching records of gravesites, birth certificates, marriage licenses, divorce decrees, death certificates, and other documents.

    In fact, just by spitting into a tube, you can send away your DNA to have it analyzed for the purpose of learning about familial ties and uncovering personal history.

    If personal and community history interest you, a cemetery is an interesting place to search. It all starts with a death certificate, which can be found with a bit of online research. The death certificate can lead you to the cemetery, where you may be able to use a map to locate the gravesites you seek. Once you know where to look, it’s time to explore.

    What should you take along on this expedition?

    • Have a camera to document what you find. It’s also a good idea to bring a notebook and a pen. That way, you can write down the information, because sometimes headstones that are legible in person are often difficult to read in a photograph.

    • A pair of gloves is useful. Sturdy work gloves will help you delicately clear away any rubble or debris that could prevent you from closely examining the headstones.

    • Wear long pants. You don’t know whether you’ll have to trek through high grass, which can be a welcoming environment for snakes, rodents, and insects. Long pants and long sleeves are often your best bet for protection against whatever you encounter.

    • Sturdy shoes are a must. Terrain can be uneven in a cemetery, so make sure your shoes are good for walking on gravel, in the grass, and on any other surface.

    • Bring a damp cloth and a plastic brush in case the headstones need cleaning. Don’t use any cleaning products or even things like baby powder or shaving cream because they can damage older stones. Instead, just use a plastic brush and a damp cloth. Another valuable tool is a small paintbrush, which will help you brush dirt from delicate surfaces without causing any harm.

    If you believe a loved one is buried in Evergreen Cemetery, we’re happy to have you look around. We’ve been here since 1907, and our property is the chosen final resting place for many notable former residents of Tucson. What’s more, our beautifully maintained property makes it easy to find what you seek. If you’re interested in learning more about Evergreen Mortuary, Cemetery & Crematory, we’d love to have you come to visit. Call (520) 257-4831 or pop by to take a look.

  • Flowers on Graves: Beautifying a Loved One’s Final Resting Place

    Are you responsible for the upkeep of a loved one’s grave? Most cemeteries have groundskeepers, but they’re often only responsible for mowing and repairs. In that case, any flowering plants or beautification of an individual gravesite is up to family members or volunteers. Even if the cemetery is well maintained, it doesn’t hurt to beautify a loved one’s final resting place.

    It’s important to check with the cemetery regarding rules, but it’s often possible to plant flowers on the grave. There may be restrictions on what you’re allowed to plant, as well as rules about maintenance, but if you get clearance, many types of flowers are a good fit for a gravesite.

    • Geraniums are a good choice because they’re bright and cheerful. Hardy and easy to maintain, they are available in a wide selection of colors. To keep them blooming, clip the spent flower heads. If the gravesite is in a warm climate, be aware that the geraniums might grow large and obscure the headstone.

    • Chrysanthemums require minimal maintenance and tend to be cold-hardy. They can be left in the ground, and they’ll return the next growing season; the primary maintenance required is deadheading blossoms and cutting back plant stems at the end of the season. Bonus: there are many types of chrysanthemums, so you can plant different ones and have blooms year-round.

    • Roses are beautiful but require some work. Most cemeteries will allow the planting of roses on a gravesite because maintenance workers can easily work around them. However, the workers generally won’t prune roses, so if you plant one, make sure you have time in your schedule to come back and tend it.

    • Wildflowers can be an easy way to add color. One of the benefits of wildflowers is that they reseed and bloom yearly, but it should be noted that some flowers that aren’t considered wildflowers will do the same thing. Annuals such as marigolds, salvia, zinnias and cosmos will come back each year for many years.

    • Daylilies are a good option because they don’t require much care. They’re very prolific growers, so unless you want them to spread over a large area, it’s best to have a border to contain them.

    • Low-spreading flowers that can handle frequent mowing are a great choice. Flowering rhyme, Roman chamomile, and some varieties of ajuga are colorful seasonal ground cover that will survive not only mowing but also foot traffic.

    The peaceful grounds of Evergreen Cemetery were established in 1907 to serve the rapidly expanding Tucson community. Today, this beautiful setting for your loved one’s final resting place is a touchpoint for future generations to reflect and remember. Call to learn more about us, or visit the About Us page to schedule a tour.

  • Turning a Guestbook into a Work of Art

    At a funeral or memorial ceremony, the guestbook is an important record of the day. It lets you look back and see who was there on this significant occasion, gives guests a small way to participate in the ceremony, and creates a memento for your family to treasure. It doesn’t have to be a book, and with some creative thinking, you can make it into a meaningful keepsake.

    There are a wealth of artistic ways to make a guestbook:

    • Create a tree of life. You can find templates for a trunk with branches, and guests will sign their names on leaves that they then glue to the tree. This creates a unique memento that can be framed or kept in a scrapbook.

    • Frame hearts in a shadowbox. Have each guest sign a wooden heart, which you’ll later mount inside a shadowbox.

    • Allow guests to sign the mat around a photo. A cherished photo of your loved one becomes a memorial keepsake when surrounded by the signatures of friends and family.

    • A thumbprint guestbook can be unique and colorful. Provide a piece of paper, perhaps with an image on it, and have guests embellish it with their finger or thumbprints. The image might be a tree trunk with branches, strings in need of balloons, or a garden of stemless flowers. Using colored stamp pads, the guests complete the picture, which can then be framed.

    • Birch tags have a striking look. Once signed, they can be hung on a simple memorial tree.

    • Wishing rocks can be kept in a bowl or used in a flower or garden. If you’re going to be using them outside or in water, make sure they are signed with the right kind of weatherproof paint.

    • Memorial quilt squares make a long-lasting keepsake. If quilting is a hobby for you or another family member, the funeral or memorial service is a wonderful place to collect squares. In addition to a signature, guests can embellish fabric scraps with warm sentiments or brief memories.

    Creating the perfect guestbook to fit the personality of the person being honored is just one more way to customize a funeral to celebrate the life that was lived.

    At Evergreen, we believe in designing ceremonies as unique as your life. We’ll make suggestions to enhance the tribute ideas you already have so that together we can make the event truly memorable. Call us at 520.257.4831 for more information, or visit our Honoring Life page for ideas about what’s possible.

  • Final Care of Our Fallen Troops

    When a soldier dies in combat, he or she must be transported back home to the grieving family. Have you ever wondered who cares for the bodies of these brave men and women in our nation’s service?

    Since 2009, journalists have been permitted a glimpse inside the Dover Port Mortuary on Dover Air Force Base in Delaware. The reports they’ve given paint a picture of tender care and solemn honor, as service members undertake the task of preparing their compatriots for their final journey home.

    For veterans killed in the line of duty, that journey begins on a cargo flight to Dover. Upon landing, the plane is met by military officials and, often, family members. White-gloved service members solemnly carry the flag-draped casket to the 72,000-square-foot building housing the mortuary, where fallen troops are carefully attended by members of the armed forces dedicated to providing respectful care.

    After an autopsy is performed by the armed forces medical examiner, mortuary staff members begin their work.

    Embalming comes first. Then the body is washed, with special attention to cleaning the hands and hair. Repairs to the body are made, and embalmers use photographs of the person to try to recreate each distinguishing line and feature. When the body is ready, it’s time for staff to dress the service member one final time.

    This is the part of the process that is most indicative of the veteran’s time in service. A dress uniform is prepared for each fallen service member, even if that person is going to be cremated or the service will have a closed casket. Even if the uniform can only be placed on top of the person’s remains, it must be perfectly prepared.

    The men and women who dress service members at this time do it for the families, but also out of a deep and solemn respect for the men and women who have sacrificed their lives for our nation.

    They carefully choose medals, badges, ribbons and other insignia specific to the person’s military service record, taking care to assemble them properly on the uniform.

    Once the uniform is complete, a photo is taken and sent to Fort Knox, so that personnel there can double check to make sure that it’s perfect. No misplaced medal or loose thread is allowed to mar the look of the uniform that will be the last outfit the family sees on their loved one. Once it’s perfect, it’s deemed suitable for someone who, through the ultimate personal sacrifice, has earned the respect, honor and appreciation of our entire nation.

    At Evergreen Mortuary, Cemetery, & Crematory, we also provide tender, respectful care to every person whose care is placed in our hands. For veterans, we strive to provide honorable and dignified arrangements and offer special services to truly honor the men and women who have given so much to protect the freedoms that all Americans hold dear.

    Call us at 520.257.4831 for more information, or visit the Veterans Services page of our website.

  • Spending Time with Loved Ones (While There’s Still Time)

    It’s easy to find yourself getting bogged down in everyday affairs. When you do that, however, your family (especially aging parents) may feel they’re missing out on time with you. If your parent or loved one is getting on in years, you might want to take time out to do something meaningful together. It’s a good way to make family members feel loved, and building those special memories is good for you, too.

    Most people have a bucket list, even if it’s never been shared with anyone. Ask questions so you can find out what your loved one would really like to do with you that they haven’t done yet. Here are a few ideas:

    • Travel! What’s a place your loved one has never been to but wants to visit? Europe? Australia? Alaska? Maybe you could take a cruise together or go on a tour. If you want to do something unusual, you could even make it your goal to visit the Wonders of the World.

    • Learn a new language. Whether you take a class, buy a set of CDs, or try an online course, the fun thing about learning a new language together is that you get to practice speaking it to each other. If you’re competitive, challenge each other to see who can master something like a song or a poem first.

    • Write a memoir. People who have lived for a long time have interesting stories to tell. Help your loved one put these stories on paper, even if it’s just for you and your family. It doesn’t have to be a bestseller — or even published — to be a valuable record of your family history.

    • Go whale watching. Whale watching is a thrilling way to experience nature. There are many other fun ways to observe animals in their natural habitat, as well, whether you’re looking for dolphins, going on a photo safari tour, visiting a wildlife sanctuary or bird watching.

    • Try new foods. Today, we have a host of foods from around the globe, readily available in our neighborhoods. Often, older people don’t try these unfamiliar foods, either because they’re nervous about something unknown or because they’re set in their ways. Introducing your parent or loved one to one of your favorites can be rewarding and fun. Maybe it will even become a shared favorite.

    • Learn a new skill such as crocheting or painting. Learning something new together is a wonderful way to build memories while developing a new skill. Look for classes at your local library or community center.

    • Support a charity. You may already donate to charity, but participating in a hands-on way can be an enriching experience. Help at a local soup kitchen, food pantry, charity thrift store or animal shelter, and you’ll be helping others as you bond with your loved one.

    We hope these suggestions spark your imagination and inspire you to create a list of your own. While you’re checking things off the list, don’t forget preplanning. Call Evergreen at 520.257.4831 or visit our Plan Ahead page to request your free preplanning guide