Why, I wondered, would Mitchell Sandler have the biggest memorial stones I have ever seen in a Jewish cemetery? Certainly, the biggest I have ever seen in the Children of Israel Cemetery.
So I started asking people I know in the Jewish community and no one had an answer. I finally called Arnold Pevna, who heads the group in charge of the cemetery, and he knew Mitchell, but he couldn't explain the big rocks. He said Mitchell kept pretty much to himself, was a quiet person, well respected and a good businessman. But no one had any explanation of why those stones were there, or who might have put them there.
It is a nice thing, I think, on this Memorial Day holiday, to realize that people are remembered in various ways. I noted that Wendy, Harry and Arnold were among the many in that cemetery who had flags at their graves, and it is a good thing that there are people who try to give respect and honor to those who deserve it.
I am grateful to those who place the flags at the graves of veterans in all our cemeteries. Even at the far end of St. James Cemetery, where my parents and other relatives are buried, the small flags are placed to show they and their military service are not forgotten.
Wendy and Harry were in World War II, Mitchell was in Korea, and it was to recognize and honor such service that Memorial Day was created after the Civil War. It was created to remember those killed in that terrible war, but it has been extended to all wars and now, more and more, to people who had no military service but are missed by those who knew them.
So, this is a time to think about those who have passed on. While I think of my own family, I will wonder, briefly, why Mitchell Sandler was singled out for special treatment at Children of Israel. Now it brings him more special recognition on a Memorial Day weekend.
Barney Gallagher has covered Haverhill since 1936 as a reporter, editor and columnist.