The Traditional Grave

Continuing more conversation with the article from Huff Post, “Up To 7,000 Bodies Found Buried Beneath University Of Mississippi Medical Center” by Nina Golgowski. Which talks about the discovery of a grave with as many of 7,000 bodies beneath the University Of Mississippi Medical Center. That was apart of the Mississippi State Lunatic Asylum until it was shut down. Dr. Molly Zuckerman explains more in the article about the Mississippi State Lunatic Asylum institutionalized by up to 35,000 patients between 1855-1935. Zuckerman continued to explain that death was a constant action, many patients died from tuberculosis, strokes, heart attack, and occasional epidemics of yellow fever and influenza, which was common during that time. Also, due to the grave being found, people wanted to find their ancestors and complete their family lineage. With that being said, before I questioned, should one be allowed to examine and test unidentified bones, for a higher purpose? Now, I want to bring to light how increased death and trauma leads to the practice of mass graves.

Connecting the article from Huff Post with the novel Zulus by Percival Everett, there is a clear connection with mass graves and how people are buried in each story. In Zulus, Alice Achitophel, the main character, tells a story through her eyes after a nuclear war that has left the world in shambles and left the people traumatized, including herself. Through her journey throughout this book, there are a few moments where Alice is confronted with the practice of mass graves. With the thermonuclear war, Alice notices the difference in grave areas. “..piled high with hermetically sealed lightweight body boxes”(Everett, 169). Meaning when one passes on if their body was exposed to the nuclear explosion, they are put into a hermetic seal, which prevents the body from releasing toxic gases. The tradition of putting dead bodies in coffins in the ground has changed to piling bodies on top of each other in hermetically sealed boxes to persevere as much life as possible, instead of respectfully, putting the dead to rest. Alice realizes that significant moral value when her boss Sue Kabnis and host Geraldine Rigg’s real purpose were at the hospital. “She watched as they dug a grave and she found the sight thrilling, then she felt deeply hurt that Sue Kabnis and Geraldine Rigg hadn’t trusted her after all, that there was no smuggling of medicine, that Sue Kabnis’ drawer was probably full of every pill, capsule, and tablet she had collected, that the real underground activity was burial of the dead.”(Everett, 223). Furthermore, Alice Achitophel realizes the real reason why she was reporting names. I feel like in society; we put bodies in coffins and bury them underground for closure and comfort. Coffins allow the one who has past to be comfortable and protected from any disturbances. The tradition allows people to feel like they have taken care of and have respect for their loved ones. However, at the same time, there is a plot twist that can be applied that is portrayed in the article.

When looking back at the article, the Mississippi State Lunatic Asylum Center created this mass graves for many reasons. One reason is due to the typical death and increase amount of patients, they needed space to take care of others entering the center. Additionally, the Asylum Center could have buried people for sanitation purposes, multiple people dying at once due to diseases like yellow fever, flu, and tuberculosis, which are highly contagious. Mass graves allow people to prevent certain diseases from spreading. The plot twist for Zulus is maybe this hospital was a State Lunatic Asylum Center, and people who were cared for had diseases from before or after the nuclear war. There is a possibility both mass graves in Zulus and at the University Of Mississippi Medical Center were for sanitation purposes to limit the exposer of contagious illnesses and gases to the earth. As well as with war, death is prevalent, and a need for disposal of bodies. What if Zulus is our future? That may be our society will lose our morals and traditions due to war and disease. What if we are awaiting the trauma and tragedy that happened in Zulus? Or have we already experienced it in our own ways?

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