We probably rarely think about it, but the life of a city does not only reflect through the historical notes and books but also through its tombstones – the natural human curiosity and the desire for travelling through time can also be satisfied by walking through the place of remembrance, through the cemetery.
The 20th century had a great influence on the everyday way of life and basic human values in the world. Millions of people were killed and deported. Many ethnical groups vanished in the maelstrom of the world wars. Today, the cemeteries are, apart from the archives, the only places that tell about the former coexistence of diverse national and language groups which have been forever separated or erased by the stirring period of the 20th century history. So, today cemeteries tell about the history of nations and cities but rarely about the history of the individual.
People have always wanted to perpetuate or simply to preserve the memory of themselves and of their achievements for generations to come. Through time, the records about people and their achievements are preserved on various cemeteries. They are almost exclusively the records which represented the culmination of the technology of the time. Just consider the Egyptian pyramids and their walls inscribed with hieroglyphics which have for thousands years retained data on people who have long since become dust and ashes.
Today, tombstones are mostly just lists of the deceased people: name, years of birth and death, and only here and there the occupation of the deceased. But people are much more than that with their stories, interesting lives, children and other achievements. We want to know more than just their name. Today’s digital era makes that possible. Digital tombstone is a result of modern technological development which enables that we take care of the memory we would like to leave for future generations. We might only use a selection of images, dedication or give a list of our achievements. We can tell our descendants whatever we want to…
Some will probably say that this is history and that today this is an unimportant topic. It may be true but it is our attitude towards the deceased that also shows our attitude towards the past which cannot simply be swept under the carpet.
Since we know that the history was written by people and that the results of their work can be seen everywhere we look in the cities, we can present the history in a different way at the cemeteries. Digital graves stones or tombs can present his or her biggest project or just his/her simple life.
By putting this idea into practice, the cemeteries across the world would not only become a place for mourning but, in addition to the memories of individuals, also a place of common remembrance of the people and the past of the city, its diversity and tolerance.