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It was a peaceful quiet day at the Bloody Lane, one of those beautiful days in May you would like to catch in a jar and save for winter. I walked down the fieldstone stairs into the old farm road. I had no idea of the series of events being put into action. Soon, in a few short steps, the line between past and present would become very blurred.
My wife Anna and I were on a vacation to hunt for antiques. Our travels took us through New Jersey, Pennsylvania and then into Maryland. While in Maryland, we stopped in Sharpsburg, where the battle of Antietam had been fought during the Civil War. I was not a student of the Civil War. For that matter, I had never even read a Civil War book. I had watched a couple of shows from the Ken Burns Civil War series on the local Public Broadcast System and, while we were in the area, felt compelled to visit this battlefield. Our first stop was at the section of the battlefield known as The Cornfield.
Anna and I walked around a bit, then drove a short distance to a parking lot near what is called the Sunken Road. Anna stayed in the car, having soon tired of looking at monuments and markers, thus ending her historical career. Walking over to the Sunken Road alone, I found myself the only visitor to this portion of the battlefield. Built into a stone wall was a piece of metal grillwork with a large button next to it with the word "Push." Much like Alice in Wonderland, my curiosity got the better of me and within a few seconds I was listening to a tape recording of what had transpired there during the battle. After listening to the tape, I walked down onto the road itself. I had only gone a few yards when something very strange happened, something the likes of which I hope will never happen again. A wave of grief, sadness and anger washed over me. Without warning, I was suddenly being consumed by sensations. Burning tears ran down my cheeks. It became difficult to breathe. I gasped for air, as I stood transfixed in the old roadbed. To this day I could not tell you how much time transpired, but as these feelings, this emotional overload passed, I found myself exhausted as if I had run a marathon. Crawling up the steep embankment to get out of the road, I turned and looked back. I was a bit shaken to say the least and wondered at what had just taken place. It was difficult getting back to the car because I felt so weak. I had regained most of my normal composure on the way back and said nothing to Anna about what had just happened. What could I say? How could I explain it to her? I did not have any answers, just questions. I would one day receive my answers, but not until more than a year later and then from a most unusual source.