Musings from the Hill
My last column has unexpectedly experienced a definite change in plans—as R. Burns wrote, “The best laid schemes o’ mice and men, gang aft a-gley.” I had mentioned that, while out driving, Mary Swan and I found a beautiful hill, by the name of Pork Chop Hill. I had not been able to find it since and asked if anyone knew where it was. The super-intelligent ladies from the Baldwin Public Library were not even aware of its existence. I received a call from Sarah Baker, a junior at Baker University who has helped me write a few of my columns, with the answer. She has written the next portion, talking about Pork Chop Hill:
I have helped June with previous columns, due to the residual effects of strokes she has had. After studying abroad in England for a semester, I am back and able to continue helping June with Musings from the Hill.
I called June when I saw her column and told her that, in fact, my step-grandfather is the owner of Pork Chop Hill and that we were having an annual Fourth of July party on the hill in a few days. I then invited June to the Independence Day party, where she was able to revisit the hill, eat a home-cooked meal and celebrate the holiday. She kept remarking about how nice it was to see a family get together on such a scale and celebrate.
Pork Chop Hill sits a mile and a half west of Wellsville and about one mile south of the Douglas-Franklin county line. The hill, which is marked with a large blue water tower, is considered the highest point in Franklin County. The hill has an awe inspiring 180-degree view of hay fields, ponds and farms. Three wooden crosses, like the ones on Mount Calvary, are positioned at the top of the hill facing west and backlit every evening by a beautiful Kansas sunset.
My grandfather, Kenny Coffman, told me that the hill has been in his family since 1939, taking on the name, “Coffman Hill.” In the 1950s, after the Korean War, a local Boy Scout troop that would have their meetings on the hill renamed the hill to “Pork Chop Hill” after the famous battle of Pork Chop Hill in the summer of 1953. Which was so famous at the time that it inspired a movie in 1959 of the same name.
I think that it is fitting that each year my family and friends come together to celebrate Independence Day on the hill named after a battle where American soldiers lost their lives. They may be gone, but they are not forgotten. Independence Day is an important day, one that is set aside of celebrating who we are as a country and how we got to where we are, a day of remembrance and hope for the future.