Business helps us all pay our respects

Published 12:01 am Friday, September 21, 2012

Nearly 73 years after their death, approximately 60 unknown victims have a proper monument marking their final resting place.

A 5-foot-tall monument was installed Wednesday at the Watkins Street Cemetery to commemorate not just the 60 unnamed victims of the Rhythm Night Club fire, but all 200 people who died that night in 1940.

It’s an overdue reminder of what this community lost, and it’s so simple, so affordable in the grand scheme of things, that it’s difficult to believe the matter hadn’t already been handled.

Email newsletter signup

So go the woes of those who rally around Watkins Street Cemetery, though.

The cemetery has long been forgotten by many, as evidenced by its battle with overgrown lots.

In recent years, non-profit groups have worked to clean up the cemetery, asking for help and donations from the public.

They’ve approached city and county leadership for help, received smiles, an occasional grass cutting and words of encouragement, but never a long-term plan for upkeep.

This time, it was private business that stepped up to get the job done.

The Isle of Capri Casino and its employees raised more than $2,000 to place the monument. The casino also cuts the grass at the cemetery twice a year.

If four or five other local businesses could pitch in two grass cuttings a year — combined with the work of the volunteers — the cemetery might just be as pristine as the Natchez City Cemetery.

It’s great to see citizens and local business taking an active role in this project, and we hope it inspires more work at Watkins Street and more work around town.