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Crown Hill

Earl and I spent a couple hours at Crown Hill with Grandson Alex this afternoon. Crown Hill is a magnificent cemetery in the heart of Indianapolis and Alex is a funeral director. The company he works for is responsible for managing Crown Hill.

You might not think the day after Thanksgiving would find us at a cemetery instead of at shopping malls. But Earl and I have an affinity for final resting places and jumped at the chance to see a jewel in the crown of cemeteries with a knowledgeable guide.

Crown Hill was dedicated in 1864, the year before the end of the Civil War, and is noted not only for its size (555 acres) but also for the miles of paved roads (25) and its species of plants and trees. The number of internments (over 200,000 graves and counting) is impressive as are some of the dignitaries who came to rest here.

Most notably are poet James Whitcomb Riley, President of the United States Benjamin Harrison (twenty-third incumbent), and Public Enemy #1 John Dillinger, the most visited plot in the entire complex. There are also two Vice Presidents, several Indiana Governors, and an equally impressive number of Indianapolis Mayors.

Perhaps the most striking area, however, is the one that houses a group grave for the 1,616 Confederate soldiers who died, not as rebel sons of Indiana, but as prisoners in a Union camp in the city.

None of this acknowledges the architecture of the front gate, the waiting room, the mausoleum, or the myriad of monuments (Truly monuments and not just gravestones), that stand as sentinels to everyone’s final act. It’s not that we need reminding, but Black Friday is not the Great Leveler. Crown Hill is.

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