DOSWELL, Va. (WTVR) –Farmer John Watson remembers vividly when the eyes of the world were watching his neighborhood.
“I’ve been on my farm here 30 years and nothing ever happened like that here,” says Watson.”
“A couple pulled up in my driveway. They were from Switzerland. They were doing an article on what happened down the road here,” Watson recalls.
Watson lives just a few houses away from Al-Barzakh Islamic Cemetery in Doswell.
The two-acre site is the final resting place of suspected Boston Marathon terrorist, Tamerlan Tsarnaev. Tsarnaev was buried under the cover of darkness amid great controversy in the weeks after the attack on April, 15th of last year.
“I didn’t realize it until he was in the ground,” says Watson.
The news heaped negative headlines on Doswell, which is famously known for the birthplace of racehorse Secretariat and the State Fair of Virginia. There was considerable anger and surprise neighbors when they learned of Tsarnaev’s burial near their homes in May of last year.
The Islamic Funeral Services of Virginia which runs Al-Barzakh says there was great outrage in the days after Tsarnaev was buried here, but there have been no reports of vandalism or protests at the cemetery. Now one year later a gate blocks access and signs prohibit anyone from entering the cemetery.
Nearly a year after the burial sentiments in this rural setting remain split. Some wish Tsarnaev was buried far away from their home.
“I don’t like it and a whole lot of other people don’t like it. That is why they complain about it,” says Priscilla Mines.
Others say Tsarnaev’s remains haven’t affected life in their rural community.
“Everything thought it was going to be a different reaction. Like a lot of commotion. Not really. Everything been basically the same,” says Demond who would only share his first name.
For John Watson, he is relieved the entire international episode is in his communities rear view mirror.
“Our neighborhood has responded well to it,” says Watson. “It is something that happened in our life and it is over with now.”