Fitness at a National Cemetery

To know me is to know that health and fitness are important to me. I eat right, work out six mornings a week, and walk an average of six miles a day. But squats? Ugh!

If you know me you also know I struggle to climb my family tree during the summer months. Who wants to sit in front of a computer when you could be outside walking around a lake or down a wooded trail? What’s a genealogist to do?

Visit a cemetery of course!

 Fort Snelling National Cemetery Avenue of Flags

Fort Snelling National Cemetery
Avenue of Flags

Husband and I didn’t start our recent trip to Fort Snelling National Cemetery with exercise in mind. We went to check on my dad’s gravesite, pull weeds and maybe take a picture or two (hundred) for Find A Grave.

Fort Snelling is one of the 131 national cemeteries in 40 states and Puerto Rico maintained by the VA’s National Cemetery Administration. If you’ve ever visited a national cemetery, you know the markers are placed at precise distances from one another front to back and side to side.

After visiting with my dad for a bit, Husband and I drove to another section of the cemetery. I boldly stated I planned to take photos of one entire row across and a second row on the return trip. These particular headstones look best photographed straight on, so my technique was to:

  1. step to the left
  2. step together
  3. stoop and shoot
  4. stand
  5. repeat steps 1-4

286 times! I had to lean on the last 50 or so headstones just to stand up and I could barely walk back to the car. My legs hurt for the next two days!

After my muscles stopped crying, I realized what a phenomenal way this had been to combine two things I love, staying fit and memorializing those who have passed.

According to Find A Grave, only 23% of the 207, 902 memorials posted for Fort Snelling have headstone photos.

I’m already doing squats to prepare for my next trip.

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