Inspirational Mobile Museum Traces History of Funeral Traditions


Steuernol & McLaren Funeral Homes of West Branch are celebrating their 100th anniversary by doing what they do best: giving back to the community. They are hosting the appearance of Reflections: The American Funeral, a mobile museum of historical funeral customs, during the Ogemaw County Fair in Michigan. This museum can provide citizens the opportunity to learn about the rich traditions of how we mourn the loss of loved ones.

Reflections: The American Funeral will be on display at the Ogemaw County Fair from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Tuesday, August 17, through Thursday, August 19. The handicap-accessible exhibit is free and open to the public.

“We’ve been privileged to comfort and serve the community for 100 years,” says Terry McLaren, Owner. “That’s a milestone that we’re proud of and a tradition of service that we’ll continue for many years to come. The appearance of this thought-provoking mobile museum will educate our citizens on how we honor the lives of our loved ones, from veterans to celebrities to historical figures.” Steuernol & McLaren operate funeral homes in West Branch, Rose City, and Saint Helen.

From the cross-country funeral procession for Abraham Lincoln to the national outpouring of grief for Elvis Presley, America has a storied history of mourning the dead. Reflections: The American Funeral explores those mourning traditions, beginning with Native American burial mounds and ending with the diverse rituals practiced across the country today. It is spread out across 1,000 square feet of thoughtful display areas:

  • “Arlington National Cemetery” honors our country’s veterans and the more than three million Americans buried in our national cemeteries.
  • “Glory, Glory Hallelujah” showcases President John F. Kennedy’s riderless horse — empty boots reversed in the saddle — trotting briskly in his funeral procession and civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks, who was the first woman to lie in state at the Capitol Rotunda.
  • “The Lord is My Shepherd” is a poignant tribute to fallen public safety officers killed in the line of duty.

Produced by St. Clair Shores, Mich.-based MRA, it’s earning high praise from everyone who experiences it. “Awesome!” “Great educational tool!” “Amazing! Brings out a lot of things we don’t think about.” “Very, very moving.”

“There are intriguing stories of funeral practices throughout the centuries and this exhibit educates people on those stories and enables them to connect to the universal human experience of death,” says Harry Kurtz, President of MRA, a leading mobile exhibit producer. “The displays on Arlington and fallen public safety officers move people to tears.”

Reflections: The American Funeral has been touring across the United States since Summer 2008, stopping at state capitols, universities, veteran events, and mortuary schools, funeral homes and industry conventions. During January 2009 Inauguration celebrations, both Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C., and Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine in Baltimore, MD, hosted it. Early this year, the exhibit was on display in front of the Capitol Building in Washington D.C.

Reflections receives support from the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA); the American Board of Funeral Service Education (ABFSE); the Academy of Professional Funeral Service Practice (APFSP); Federated Funeral Directors of America (FFDA); and Kates-Boylston Publications.

Please visit to learn more and see a Calendar of Events.

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