The Herald Bulletin

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June 7, 2014

Don McAllister: On a hill far from time

Every day starts a new story and some connect us to everything that was, is, and will be. This story has an uncertain future, but is also bathed in rich history and a beauty and peace that can’t be fully realized unless “you were there.”

I recently drove to the Old Burk Cemetery near Greensburg, Ind., with reason to believe I could find several ancient relatives on my grandmother’s side. Usually one drives to a cemetery, they park, and start walking to find the graves they seek. The Old Burk is different. It’s built on a hill completely surrounded by a farm field. Would there be a place to park? Would the field be deeply plowed or the farmer working it that day denying me access to the cemetery? To my delight I was able to complete my mission to find and photograph every headstone – perhaps a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

The first stone I found was my great-grandfather’s sister. I trimmed the grass and used 17 pounds of flour to read and photograph the faded inscriptions. Findagrave had listed 42 graves. I counted 82 markers. Several were common rocks used to mark the grave. The most incredible find was a detailed headstone of my 4G-Grandfather Henry Burk. It listed his full birth and death dates, his birth state, Virginia, and his father’s name. Before me was a man who was born 17 years before our Revolution. Think of the history this man lived or of the endless opportunities before him if he were willing to work. I considered the character, both genetic and moral, that this man had handed down. Henry Burk was of that generation that laid the foundation for this incredible country. Would he be proud of what we have since become? Would he be proud of me?

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