the rally, a group of 60 ex-patients, politicians, members of the
press, DMH officials and clergy made a procession down to the cemeteries
and placed a flower near a grave stone as a sign of commitment to
restoring the cemeteries. Here you see Judy Robbins, a member of
the Danvers State Memorial Committee, praying at the smaller of
the two cemeteries. Judy is a former staff person and a former patient
of Danvers State. This work can be deeply healing for many of us.
It gives us a chance to come to terms with our experiences at the
hospital - both the good and the bad - and to make a contribution
as well. One of our groups' slogans has been, "It could have
been me buried in there."
the summer of 1998 our group hacked through the brush and overgrowth
in the cemeteries trying to determine how many people were buried
there. Keeping group active and involved has been a key to the longevity
and success of the Danvers State Memorial Committee. Some people
ask if the work is depressing. We always say "no". Sure
it is sad, but we are making a positive change and feel uplifted
in that work.
is Bill Capone, a member of our groups, speaking with a TV news
reporter in August of 1998. The media - TV, radio, magazines and
newspapers - is very attracted to the story of state hospital cemetery
restoration because it is a visual subject and has dynamic human
interest angles. Of course, the media can help put pressure on state
authorities to do the right thing and restore the cemeteries.
is Mark Giles, a former patient at Danvers State, speaking with
a TV news reporter. Restoring state hospital cemeteries offers ex-patients
the opportunity to become civic leaders. When the media portrays
us as community leaders restoring state hospital cemeteries, it
helps to break the stigma associated with mental illness. We are
portrayed, not as dangerous deviants, but as contributing community