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Portland Maine: The Desecration Capitol of the World

By Paul O'Neill, June 23, 2000

Portland Maine cemetery tombstoneThe “off-leash dog park” that is known as the Western Cemetery and was treated with the dignity and respect due a cemetery in a more civilized and respectful time has over the years been subjected to severe neglect and vandalism.  Unfortunately this is the case with many older cemeteries. The Western Cemetery is Portland Maine’s second oldest cemetery and was Portland’s primary burial ground, from 1829 until about 1852 and was active until 1910. There has been a burial as recently as 1987.

Portland Maine Cemetery tombstoneMany of the Irish people who had to immigrate during the “Great Hunger” in Ireland in the mid 1800’s are buried in the Catholic Ground of the Western Cemetery. On Sunday August 15, 1999 Division 1 of the Ancient Order of Hibernians in Portland dedicated a stone marking the Catholic Ground on one side and remembering the Famine Irish on the other side. There are still some people who respect cemeteries.

What makes the Western Cemetery case so indefensible is the fact it has not just simply been neglected, it is being deliberately, actively, systematically and relentlessly desecrated with the city’s blessing. The City of Portland has designated the Western Cemetery not a park but an “off-leash dog park”. This means that instead of spending a few dollars to fence in an appropriate area for dog walking and running, dog-owners are invited to and encouraged to bring their dogs into the Western Cemetery to romp all over and relieve themselves on people’s graves.

Portland Maine Cemetery dogsThe dog-owners that make up Portland Maine’s infamous “Doggy Brigade” file into the cemetery starting at the crack of dawn to launch their daily assault on the graves. Grave desecration is wrong and it is a pity that the city can find so many depraved people willing to stoop so low as to put their pets, their dogs in a situation where they can’t help taking part in this disgusting activity. Portland Maine being the extremely progressive city, it is has scored a noteworthy first that puts it far ahead of it’s time. The city of Portland is the first city in the United States and perhaps the world to adopt grave desecration as city policy. If you visit Portland’s web site you will see in the dog regulations that the Western Cemetery is one of those places where you can let your dog loose. Dogs are a wonderful pet and they should not be put into a situation where they will be desecrating graves. Dogs don’t belong in a cemetery!

cemetery dog parkThe State of Maine recently passed a law that requires every town and city to decorate veteran’s graves with a flag on Memorial Day. If the Western Cemetery remains the dog toilet that it is now this will add flag desecration to the city’s wonderful list of policies making Portland, Maine truly the desecration capital of the world!

Portland has a city government that sorely needs to be informed or reminded that even in “this day and age” cemeteries are sacred and should be treated with dignity and respect and that grave desecration and flag desecration are wrong and are not an appropriate city policy. To subject a cemetery to grave desecration is heinous enough but to also use it as a place where our nation’s flag will annually be desecrated is just outragous.

cemetery dog parkPlease help to bring the Portland City government back to their senses. Write a letter today!

For the Portland City Hall, send your letters to:

City of Portland
City Hall
389 Congress Street
Portland, ME 04101

Send your e-mail to:
Mcd@ci.portland.me.us

If you would prefer to write a “Letter to the Editor”. Send it to The Portland Press Herald (Portland’s Daily). The maximum length is 250 words and you should send it to:

Voice of the People
Portland Press Herald
P.O. Box 1460
Portland, ME 04104-5009

Or e-mail it to: Letters@pressherald.com

- Paul O'Neil

Paul is the President of Division 1 of the Ancient Order of Hibernians in Portland Maine, and is leading a campaign to return dignity and respect to the Western Cemetery. Contact Paul at: Galway376@cs.com

Update!

December 12, 2000: Paul O'Neil has written an update regarding the situation with Western Cemetery. Click here to read on!

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