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JAMA 100 Years Ago
May 19, 1999


JAMA. 1999;281(19):1856. doi:10.1001/jama.281.19.1856

PERU, IND., May 13, 1899.

To the Editor:—Regardless of what may have been the ancient customs or are the modern methods of disposing of the dead, regardless of whims and fancies pro and con, there is but one sanitary method, but one method which is safe for the living, but one method which is acceptable to the dead, and but one method which is justice to nature—that of cremation.

From a sanitary standpoint, what is more elegant, more beautiful, more esthetic and cleanly than resolving the organized body into its original elements by a rapid, safe and thorough method—cremation—as against the disgusting, horrifying, slow, unsafe and inelegant method—putrefaction? Death is robbed of many of its horrors when we remember that our dear old body, even though it may have been an aching and ugly one, is to be rapidly transformed or changed, as it were, into oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen and carbon, the four elements of which all living organisms are in the main constructed. It is pleasing to know that our bodies may thus be restored to nature, ready to again be claimed by organized life.