Countdown to Eternity: On the Launch Pads to Paradise

Obelisk tombstones are the skyscrapers of any cemetery. Their shape—tall, sleek, four-sided, tapering to the top, crowned by a pyramid—is both classical and modern: Their use in architecture dates back to the ancient Egyptians, but to members of the Cold War generation, such tombstones can look militaristic, like the ICBMs of the afterlife. Every time I see an obelisk tombstone I flash back to the Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962, when I begged my parents to dig us a bomb shelter.

To the ancient Egyptians an obelisk as a public work of art represented a ray of the sun (or the sun god Ra) rendered in stone. Used in modern times as a tombstone, an obelisk can represent eternal life or regeneration. Here are some obelisk tombstones seen around town, aimed toward Heaven (or possibly Havana):

Ellison family obelisk at Greenwood Cemetery.

Two obelisks at Pioneers Rest Cemetery. The one in the foreground is the Daggett family obelisk.

Loyd family obelisk at Oakwood Cemetery.

Van Zandt family obelisk at Oakwood Cemetery.

Jennings family obelisk at Oakwood Cemetery.

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