Anna Mac Clarke - Preface
Courtesy John M. Trowbridge
It was raining that April morning as the train rolled into the station at Lawrenceburg. It was one of those day-long rains that slows the world down and gives you time to reflect. They had been waiting to meet the train that was bringing her back home. Home to her final resting place, this young woman who had, in the short span of 24 years, accomplished so much, not only for herself but for her race and her gender. Earl Guthrie, Will "Pappy" , Chester Gill Sr. and Dink Bond (who had always been crazy about Anna, and would have done anything for her when she was growing up in Lawrenceburg) were waiting and remembering as the train came rolling into the station. A large group of childhood friends and family had assembled at the train station in Lawrenceburg.
Sergeant Robert Franklin James, Anna Mac's brother, stepped from the train; the Army had assigned him to be the escort officer, to bring his sister's body back home. It did not seem that long ago that he had been in the field with his unit at Fort Ord, California, when he was told to report to the orderly room. There was a message from the local Red Cross that told him his sister Lt. Anna M. Clarke was in the hospital at Douglas Army Air Field in Douglas, Arizona. Sergeant James immediately caught the train for Douglas and his sister.
Anna Mac was admitted to the base hospital at Douglas Army Air Field in March 1944. She was diagnosed as having a ruptured appendix, and gangrene had set in. When Robert arrived he visited Anna in the hospital. She was starting to recover from her appendectomy. A couple of days later Anna Mac took a turn for the worse, for apparently the poison of the gangrene was not out of her body. She died on April 19. Robert would make the train ride from Arizona back home with his sister. They arrived home on Saturday, April 22.
Robert saw the crowded platform of family and friends waiting for him and his sister. The coffin was taken to Anna's childhood home, her grandmother's house on Lincoln Street where it lay in state until Monday, when it was moved to the Evergreen Baptist Church on College Street for memorial services. This was the same Evergreen Baptist Church where Anna Mac and her sister and brothers had been awarded a Gold Pin for fifteen years of perfect Sunday school attendance, not many years before. A military honor guard came from Fort Knox, and a minister from Lexington was called to preach the funeral. From the church Anna's body was taken to Woodlawn Cemetery (the local blacks only cemetery) located just outside of Lawrenceburg in the little community of Stringtown. A solemn graveside service was conducted. The honor guard fired their salute, and the American flag was presented to Anna's grandmother. Anna Mac Clarke was finally home.