Cemetery Photographs Connect Families Far and Wide

Posted on: 8:17 pm, December 27, 2013, by

A Fort Smith woman used her passion for photography to spread some hope for the holidays to families far and wide.

Judy Ferguson said it all began on Facebook. She saw a comment left on a photograph of the Christmas Honors wreaths at the National Cemetery by a former Fort Smith resident.

Paula Stephens, who now lives in New Mexico, said she commented about how much she and her husband used to like to visit the cemetery during the holidays. Both of Stephens’ parents are buried there.

Ferguson said she’s had a rough journey this year, but, in the end, feels blessed and wanted to give back somehow. She found her opportunity when she saw Stephens’ post.

“(Ferguson) told me that she would just be delighted to take a photograph of my mom and dad’s headstones and post it for me,” said Stephens. “It just made my whole holiday.”

Ferguson took her love of photography and opened up the offer to others on Facebook who may want pictures of their loved one’s grave sites as well. The response was overwhelming, she said, as she received more than 140 comments to her post, including 43 requests for photographs.

“Some of them I knew or recognized, but most of them I’d never seen or heard before,” she said of those requesting photos.

Stephens said she is grateful to Ferguson for helping her reconnect to her parents for the holidays. “This is something that meant so much to a lot of people, and she probably had no idea at the onset.”

Ferguson said the project was simply a way to show her appreciation for those who have served our country.

“I look at each one of these grave sites, and I try to imagine what kind of sacrifice they made,” she said. “Because freedom isn’t really free.”


  • Paula Stephens says:


  • Leslie says:

    Hi Paula, I wonder if you’d suggest to Judy that she’d be Findagrave.com volunteer …it doesn’t involve any certain level of commitment – you just get an e-mail of someone has made a new photo request. I’ve done a few myself. http://www.findagrave.com It’s one of my favorite web sites ever, partly because it’s SO helpful with genealogy.
    Happy New Year!

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