Statue of limitations

Col. Henry King Burgwyn Jr. – photo University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The basics of the story were chiselled into the brass plaque in front of us. It described the heroic advance of a young colonel in the Civil War. More important, beside the plaque, in this little gulley known as Willoughby Run in the middle of Gettysburg National Military Park, one of my dearest historian friends, Paul Van Nest, described the final charge of an officer with the 26th North Carolina Regiment on July 1, 1863.

“His name was Henry King Burgwyn Jr.,” Van Nest said. “He was just 21 years of age, the youngest colonel in the Confederate Army. It was his last charge.”

Victories of heart and territory

Mother Canada mourns her dead: key element of Walter Allward sculpture at Vimy Ridge memorial in France.
Mother Canada mourns her dead atop Vimy Ridge memorial in France.

It’s not often a person walks in the footsteps of an ancestor. Nor are there many opportunities to sense the sights, sounds and smells that someone who lived nearly a century ago experienced.

Recently, I read about such an experience when I was asked to endorse an application by a member of our community for the Beaverbrook Vimy Prize. As part of her application, Rebecca MacDonald, 17, wrote about her great-grandfather, Walter James MacDonald, an engineer in the 13th Canadian Mounted Police who served at the Battle of Vimy Ridge in April 1917.

“Standing in the trenches and the fields of Vimy Ridge, I could feel his spirit,” she wrote.