Sweat and an Old Hymn -Ben Reece

I pulled into church, lunch in hand. It was hot. My quarter-zip sweatshirt and long Khaki pants were not the right choice for this 100⁰ sunny August day. I ran my fingers threw brow were sweat was already forming. That when it caught my eye, that odd gravesite next to church. I had been working here at Hurstbourne for about a year and not even once had I walked over to that monument situated right next to the church. I thought maybe this day should have been the day that I saw what it was for. I was going to eat my lunch at my desk this day anyway, five minutes would not put me too far behind on my to-do list. 

It was a sweltering walk. The treetops were alive with chirping cicadas, squealing squirrels, and some loudly bellowing birds. They all seemed to be complaining about this heat along with me. The noises and tall trees made it seem as if I was stepping into a secluded meadow rather than the lawn across from a busy parkway. Crossing the street, I found myself facing a descriptive plaque next to the monument. This location was the homestead of Colonel Richard Anderson, a Revolutionary War veteran wounded at the siege of Trenton and Savannah, and Aide to the Marquis de Lafayette. After fighting for our American freedom Colonel Anderson came here, to the location our church now sits, and founded a homestead in the middle of nothing. In Colonel Anderson’s time in Hurstbourne, I was sure that the cicadas, squirrels, and birds that I heard would be nothing more than the common sounds of the land. It was hard to imagine how much Hurstbourne had progressed since Colonel Anderson first cleared the fields here. 

I approached the grave. At this point, sweat was rolling down my cheeks, dripping to the ground. There was a foam wreath leaning up next to the grave. It had holes where flowers were once stuck inside, but they sat empty, barren. The ground around these graves was well kept, mowed and in order, but up close one could see the lack of attention that these graves received. They were forgotten. It was made to look great from a distance. Passing cars could not see anything wrong with the monument and graves, but standing still face to face with this last resting place I could see the attention that this location needed. How often did they see a visitor? How often did someone pay respect to the family that called this place home, the land the church sat now? It took me hundreds of times trips driving past and parking across the street before I ever made my way to this passed-over site. 

Often, we focus on progress, on the future. Will we be better or worse off tomorrow? How about next month or next year? When do we take the time to remember the past? All the things that fell in line and the people who worked to get us to the point we are now, to remember Colonel Anderson, a man who not only fought for our freedom, but also cleared the very land that I stand on today as I write this article. 

I stood there looking at the monument for a few minutes, but it was too hot to stay long. How did people live here in a time without A/C? I walked back to church, grabbing my lunch from my car, a prepackaged bag of red beans and rice, and imported apple and banana. None of these were KentuckyProud™. How different is the world I am part of than the world that Colonel Anderson lived in, and how much is that because of what he helped to create? When I approached the church, the bells started ring. They were playing an old, but familiar hymn. I knew it and could follow some of the melody, but I couldn’t remember what its name. It was something that I should know, something my great-grandmother would have known from her childhood. Yet, it was something that I had forgotten. I opened the door and walked into the church. The A/C rushed against my skin, drying the sweat rolling from my forehead. The door closed behind, and that old hymn stopped.