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Large tree sits stoically at mass grave

One large tree towers over the mass grave at Forest Hill Cemetery honoring 33 men and women who were killed on Sept. 9, 1969 when Allegheny Airlines 853 was struck by a smaller plane as both were traveling over northwestern Shelby County. The tree belonged to one of the victims and was donated by his family.

By JEFF BROWN - jbrown@shelbynews.com

The tree has a story.

One of the passengers aboard Allegheny Airlines 853 had ordered 25 trees.

For some unknown reason, only 24 arrived in the initial order.

The passenger never saw the 25th after dying on Sept. 9, 1969.

After the plane crash, the 25th tree arrived. 

The widow of the passenger then donated the tree to the mass grave at Forest Hill Cemetery in Shelbyville where her husband was being buried. 

Fifty years later, it stands at attention watching over the grassy area and the monument, placed there by Allegheny Airlines, where 33 men and women were laid to rest.