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Erik Visits an American Grave, Part 488

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This is the grave of Elizabeth Edwards.

Born in 1949 in Jacksonville, Elizabeth Anania grew up in a military family and moved around a lot. Her father fought in Vietnam and she was living in Japan at that time at a base that also processed injured soldiers, an experience she later said shaped her in a significant way. She attended high school in Alexandria, Virginia and then went to Mary Washington College in Fredericksburg, Virginia. She then transferred to the University of North Carolina, where she graduated. She did some graduate studies at UNC in English but then switched the law school, where she graduated as well.

A skilled young lawyer, Anania got a position as a law clerk for a federal judge. In 1977, she married another young lawyer from North Carolina–John Edwards. They both moved to Nashville in 1978. She kept her last name though–all the way until 1996. It was at that date that their son died in a drunk driving crash (he was the one who was drunk) and then to honor him, she took the name Edwards. I’m sure her husband’s burgeoning political career had no small reason in this too. Anyway, she worked as a lawyer through these years as John’s career took off.

Mostly, Edwards played a supporting role in John’s career, staying in the background, showing up for campaign events, taking care of their four kids. She didn’t speak out too much until 2006, when she wrote a book about the people who had inspired her, which was clearly something done to assist John’s upcoming presidential campaign. Then, in 2007, she came out for gay marriage, before her husband did. In 2004, Edwards was diagnosed with breast cancer. It went into remission for awhile, but came back in 2007. In her husband’s disastrous 2008 presidential campaign, when he was shown to be a total empty suit, she became an inspirational figure for her fight against the cancer, which she knew would kill her sooner rather than later. She became a lot more popular than he was. In 2009, she published her second book about her cancer and her personal life, including John’s frequently cheating on her. In fact, it was the revealing of his horrible behavior in fathering a child and then getting an advisor to take the blame for it that led her to finally announce her divorce in 2010. The affair had been alleged since 2007 but he denied until the evidence was overwhelming.

But the thing is that North Carolina has a mandatory one-year waiting period for a divorce. And she wouldn’t live long enough to see it. It was in January 2010 that she announced the divorce. The cancer took her in December 2010, at the age of 61.

Elizabeth Edwards is buried in Oakwood Cemetery, Raleigh, North Carolina. Her son is there as well. I’m real curious if John will end up buried there. There’s another, equally absurd, sculpture to eventually host his remains.

This grave visit was sponsored by LGM reader donations. Thanks! You can donate to get me to more graves here. I’m not real sure who is analogous to Elizabeth Edwards to suggest, but be certain that more graves are in the offering, including a trip this weekend into the heart of Virginia, where no racist or evangelical scumbag has ever lived…. Previous posts in this series are archived here.

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