Tomb Trippin' is a web series hosted by Jim Hanks that focuses on "reanimating" some of the forgotten stories of American history that can be found buried in graveyards across the country. Come with us as we delve into the past and bring to history to life.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Understanding what it means to be a U.S. veteran, part 2

Our photo of Louis Van Iersel's cenotaph.
This day on our  “Tomb Trippin’“ blog, we honor one veteran attributed with saving over 1,000 lives ! His name is Louis Van Iersel, and he is buried in Arlington National Cemetery with his wife, but has a cenotaph (a grave marker for someone who is not buried there) in the beautiful, small Sierra Madre Pioneer Cemetery, in Sierra Madre, Calif., right near where I live. My husband, Dan, and I have included some pictures of this lovely cemetery, as well as a grave of a Vietnam veteran we happened to notice as we were driving away. The flag by his tombstone and flowers were left as an early tribute. 

Visit his page on Find A Grave to learn about Van Iersel's incredible bravery and swift thinking. Think of the impact he and so many men and women like him have made. Enjoy the pictures, and we hope you enjoyed your day off yesterday (if you had one). Hopefully you found time for a quiet salute in your heart for all the fallen. 

Thank you so much for visiting our blog! I know I said you would meet the producers this month, but we wanted to dedicate our blog to our country's heroes. You'll meet everybody next month. Please join us again.

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Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Understanding what it means to be a U.S. veteran, part 1

My dad
The ending lines of one of Emerson’s most famous quotes on living reads, “... to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded!”

This Veterans Day we should all try to find some moments to thank all of those who made the ultimate sacrifice to change so many lives of the living and loved here in America. Maybe you have relatives who fought in past wars or are currently enrolled in the armed forces. We honor them on this special day.

I grew up in Warren, Ohio, a working -class, industrial town. I didn’t understand or care too much about history as a kid, just was always wondering what was next for me in my young life. But, when I got a little older and the Vietnam War was going on, so many young men from my town were killed or came back wounded that I, like the rest of the youth in this country, could no longer ignore the realities of losing those you knew and loved.

Uncle Traian
One day, I asked my sweet, sweet father about his experiences in WWII. He was on a submarine doing search and rescue in Pacific waters. He didn’t choose to talk too much about it but did tell of pulling sailors out of the sea to save them. How many lives of men he didn’t even know he must have touched and changed while in service !

His brother, my Uncle Traian, fought in both WWII and the Korean war. My mother’s brother, my Uncle Chuck, also fought in WWII. I miss them all. And now that I am older and wiser as to the contributions they made on this day, I honor them each year.

Whether they were saving lives in battle or simply helping me down from the tree I climbed too high into, they are all everyday heroes to me.

Come back tomorrow for part 2 of our tribute to our veterans. We'd like to introduce you to Louis Van Iersel ....


My dad in his sailor uniform
My mom and her brother, Traian

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Happy Day of the Dead!

All Souls' Day at Campo Santo (10/29/07). Photo by Ute on Flickr from Creative Commons.
Happy Día de los Muertos from all of us at Tomb Trippin'!
Here's a little information about this fascinating and beautiful celebration.
According to the Huffington Post, "Día de Muertos (or Day of the Dead) originated 3,000 years ago with the Aztecs, who had annual ceremonies, not to mourn, but to honor the deceased and to welcome the temporary return of their spirits .... When the Spanish conquistadors conquered the Aztec Empire in the early 1500's, they brought with them Catholicism, hence All Souls and All Saints Day, which were their own answers to honoring the dead. The result, the Día de Muertos we know today." 
Facts about the Day of the Dead (from
  • The Day of the Dead is actually two days--Nov. 1 and 2 (coinciding with the Catholic All Souls' Day and All Saints' Day)
  • The spirits of children come back to their families  on Nov. 1
  •  The spirits of adults return on Nov. 2
  • Day of the Dead altars made in honor of deceased relatives are called offrendas.
  • It's believed that "happy spirits will provide protection, good luck and wisdom to their families."
Are you celebrating the Day of the Dead? Let us know and share your photos in the comment section or email us at

 The team at Tomb Trippin' wishes you and your ancestors the best.