September 24, 2010
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On my way to visit my brother in Maryland, I stopped at a park that was right off of the highway. It was one of the many dozens of federally managed national battlefields. I stepped out of my car and headed down a short path. All along the trail, fall-blooming wildflowers were at their peak. Bright purple and yellow New England Asters (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae) lined the sides of the trail, while other asters and goldenrods where in full bloom throughout the forest floor and field edges.
I continued down along the short path into a small ravine area – when I was stopped dead in my tracks. At the base of the hill upon which the trail had been descending lay a an old tombstone marking the location where British General Edward Braddock was buried after his death during the French and Indian War during the mid-17oos. I glared at it for a moment, feeling myself suddenly as an intruder rather than a visitor, and I immediately made my way back up the hill to where my car was parked.
On my way out, I hit a stupid traffic jam out in the middle of nowhere Pennsylvania before I entered Maryland. This gave me some time to think.
I thought to myself how interesting it was that the spot where I was, with it’s mature trees and colorful fall wildflowers, could have been such an intense battle ground for so many years? If that grave had not been there, I would have perhaps considered that ravine to be a nice spot to relax and read a book…not as a place where war and death are in it’s recent history.