Back from Baltimore

Fort McHenry at the entrance to Baltimore’s Inner Harbor

I’m penning this article on Wednesday, one day before it is published while I have the memories of the National Funeral Directors Association International Expo fresh in my memory.  I spent Saturday through Tuesday afternoon at the convention in Baltimore, Maryland, leaving Tuesday evening and arriving home late on that same evening.

In today’s edition I just want to touch on my first impressions and in subsequent articles over the next week or so I’ll comment more on what I saw and heard in Baltimore.

First of all, I’ve been retired from active ownership and the front lines of funeral service for over eight years now.  However, a few years ago I started this blog in hopes that what I have to say about my career in funeral service resonated with younger funeral directors and I could prove a good mentor to some.  So, this was the first national convention that I’ve attended in over ten years. . . and I’m so glad I went.  I wasn’t disappointed.

I saw old friends. . . and made new friends.  I had the chance to reminisce about the past and had the chance to speculate on the future.  I met legends of funeral service and am pretty sure that I met and visited with “legends to come” among the younger crowd.

Being with these fine people made me proud of what I did for my life’s work.  I again realized that I provided employment for many and, probably more important, was a part of the process of healing families in moving their emotions from loss to memorial to remembrance.  And, I was happy to realize that that process is not being lost among the good young people in the business.

Yes, the memorialization won’t always be in the same way it was when I was working. . . . there will probably be less caskets. . . but, I think as Keynote Speaker Kindra Hall told us. . . there will be more stories.  Stories that can tell of people’s lives and help us in remembering them.  Stories of what we do for our life’s work and relating that to the consumer public so they understand the value of funeral directors.  Author Kindra Hall told us “Stories connect People” and connecting people to lessen the pain of loss is something we help facilitate.  She pushed us to pledge to continue to connect people and get better and better at it.  (BTW- I was surprised to discover that Kindra Hall was a native Minnesotan and attended Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota)

(Kindra Hall bio)

And, I got goosebumps and teared up on Monday morning at the opening session  when it was opened with the presentation of colors, the Pledge of Allegiance, and our national anthem sang by one of our country’s armed forces members.  It brought special meaning to me when I realized that anthem was being performed only about one mile from where it was written off the shores of Fort McHenry (Fort McHenry Wikipedia) during the War of 1812 and the defense of Baltimore Harbor against the British.  That fact of location was not lost on me.

An iconic view from the Baltimore Convention Center

I wondered to myself, in today’s America, how many other national conventions continue with the reverence and dignity of honoring our country and those who went before us by beginning with the Pledge of Allegiance and the Star Spangled Banner?  I don’t know how many do, but I hope that we never lose sight of the fact that all of us in funeral service respect and honor our past.  It made me very proud to be counted among funeral service professionals.

There was a lot more. . .and I’ll comment on that in future days.  I picked up 9 continuing education credits learning all kinds of things. I visited with sponsors of Funeral Director Daily and thanked them for helping provide this commentary to almost 3,000 subscribers free-of-charge daily.  I was able to sample some great seafood that we have difficulty in finding in Minnesota.  I recognized the right field building of historic Oriole Park at Camden Yards just outside the convention center walls, and on Sunday evening I got to “feel” the excitement of Sunday Night Football – Baltimore Raven style. . . located just a few hundred yards from the convention center at M&T Bank Stadium.

So. .. . . hat’s off to NFDA and the City of Baltimore for providing a great experience for this “over the hill” funeral director.  It was great to be back among my colleagues again!!

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  1. JON HAAVEN on October 13, 2022 at 7:38 am

    Another great article, Tom. Even though I’m not and never have been in your professional shoes, I find your writings most enlightening. Describing your trip to Baltimore and particularly the “reverence and dignity” surrounding the convention itself was beautifully done.

  2. Colette Kemp on October 13, 2022 at 5:53 am

    So glad you did start this blog 8 years ago! I read your articles every day, and you’ve helped to educate me as a newbie.

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