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“I have a fascination with objects. When I see someone’s autograph, I don’t just see a signature. I imagine the pen that created the signature, then the person holding the pen and putting that pen to the paper. What were they feeling as they wrote their name? I get goosebumps thinking about these things!”
When you ask Dick Parke where his passion for history comes from, his face lights up, and he will regale you with anecdotes such as this one, as well as a multitude of stories and experiences which he tells with immense passion and joy.
“For years I kept a civil war bullet in my pocket. At any time of the day I could take that bullet out, hold it, and feel my connection to the soldier that carried it and the history of this country. That bullet represented a special moment!”
As a Civil War buff and long-time collector of historic items, Dick explained that feeling “closer to history” was what originally drew him to regularly visit the James A. Garfield Memorial and Lake View Cemetery. His historic ties to Lake View grew when he learned that his house is not only the oldest house on Fairmount Blvd., but was also the home of Reverend William Bustard, John D. Rockefeller’s pastor. “Rockefeller often visited my house when he was in town!”
Dick and his wife, Jude, appreciate the work that we are doing at the cemetery to preserve history. We recently met with Dick to express our deep gratitude for their tremendous support of the renovations to the James A. Garfield Memorial, particularly their assistance with the restoration of the flagpole that stands atop the monument’s balcony. We were eager to learn what inspired them to help fund this special project. The answer came quickly and vividly to Dick as he recalled the moment his admiration and respect for flags began.
The act of making this discovery, layer by layer, became an emotional experience.
“About 30 years ago I was at an antique store and I noticed some folded cloth on a shelf. I took it down and began to unfold it until I realized it was a flag. The act of making this discovery, layer by layer, became an emotional experience. The flag had 13 stars and 9 stripes, and I was compelled to read about it and my love for flags grew from there. I now have 10 antique flags in my collection.”
Remembering that bullet he used to carry in his pocket he mused, “If a bullet represents a single moment, then a flag represents continuity through all of history!” When the Garfield flagpole is restored and the American flag waves once again, Dick took a moment to describe what that will mean to him. “I will most likely see the red, white, and blue, and think of the flag that was flying when Garfield marched as a soldier and then I’ll think of the flag that drapes Garfield’s casket.” Such beautiful imagery. It gives you goosebumps.
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