"It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope.” - Robert F. Kennedy
Last night we watched the Emilio Estevez film "Bobby," which after the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, served as a painful reminder of how two of our best hopes were snatched from us right when they were needed most. As a child I was affected deeply by Robert F. Kennedy's death. Sadly, there's never been another leader who captured the spirit and imagination of the American people like RFK. Despite his privileged background, he worked tirelessly to help improve the lives of those less fortunate and alleviate poverty, racism and other forms of social injustice.
Watching the film, I was struck by the extreme contrast of 1968 and today. In 1968 people stood up and protested the war, social injustices and racism; they made their voices heard. Nearly 40 years later, apathy seems rampant in America and few people are doing anything to try to effect positive change. Too many Americans seem to care about nothing but themselves and their own comfort. Yet the gap between the haves and have nots grows ever wider, as our freedoms and civil liberties are curtailed at an alarming rate. What will it take for us to wake up and accept responsibility for ourselves and others?
To match my somber mood, here are photos from an exhibition From the Cradle to the Grave at Castle Museum in York, England.
Mourning dress in Victorian times from an exhibition at Castle Museum, York, England.
In the final "half-mourning" period, women were allowed to wear grey, white or shades of purple.
An accounts book for funeral services and burials.
Mourning cards, photos, a memorial flower arrangement under a glass dome and a doll dressed in traditional mourning clothes.
Hand-sewn funeral garments were typically made in advance. If the deceased lacked his own garments, the undertaker provided them.
The funeral tea comprised primarily of biscuits and port wine was an important ritual in Victorian society, particularly in the north of England.
Special veils, jet jewelry and various accessories were part of the mourning process. Click photo to enlarge and read more about rituals influenced by Queen Victoria that typically were adopted during a two-and-a-half-year mourning period.
A large wicker basket often served as a coffin in Victorian times.
The Burneston Parish Hearse was purchased for £40, 5 shillings in 1908 by the Parish of Burneston near Bedale, North Yorkshire. During the 19th-and-early-20th-centuries, country parishes often bought a bier or small hearse that could be pulled by hand or by a pony. The bier of stretcher inside the hearse was used to carry the coffin from the church gates into the church and then to the graveside. After World War II, hearses were used less frequently, due to motorised transport. The Burneston Parish Hearse was sold to the Castle Museum in 1967.