Thursday, May 27, 2010

That First Decoration Day

Memorial Day marks the beginning of the summer vacation season. Where I live, it means lots of tourists from now until Labor Day. When I think of Memorial Day, I think about the men and women who have paid the ultimate price on the battlefield protecting our freedom as americans.  I think about the beautiful and serene Bolestown Cemetery, where lies the remains of many of my ancestors from before and after the civil war.  My great, great, great, great grandfather, James Boles, is buried there. He was a revolutionary war soldier, who fought in the battle of Kings Mountain. His son, my great, great, great grandfather, John Boles, is also buried there beside his wife, Matilda. He was a Union soldier in the service of Tinker Dave Beaty's Independent Scouts. She was Tinker Dave's sister. John's son, George, my great great grandfather, was also a member of Tinker Dave's group, as was his brother Robert. They were not killed during the war, but no doubt witnessed a few skirmishes where soldiers or civilians were killed.

Decoration Day, as it was first known, was first enacted to honor fallen Union soldiers of the civil war. One of the earliest known observances happened after former slaves had converted a mass grave at the former Washington Race Course, now Hampton Park, in Charleston, South Carolina, into a cemetery. The race course had been used as a temporary Confederate prison camp. When the hostilities ended, the former slaves exhumed the bodies and reinterred them properly. They built a fence around the graveyard and declared it a Union graveyard. On May 1, 1865, a crowd of up to ten thousand people, mainly african-americans, marched to the location for sermons, singing, and a picnic. It was the first Decoration Day.

Sleep, comrades, sleep and rest
On this Field of the Grounded Arms
Where foes no more molest
Nor sentry's shot alarms

Ye have slept on the ground before
And started to your feet
At the cannon's sudden roar
Or the drum's redoubling beat

But in this camp of Death
No sound your slumber breaks
Here is no fevered breath
No wound that bleeds and aches

All is repose and peace
Untrampled lies the sod
The shouts of battle cease
It is the Truce of God

Rest, comrades, rest and sleep
The thoughts of men shall be
As sentinels to keep
Your rest from danger free

Your silent tents of green
We deck with fragrant flowers
Yours has the suffering been
The memory shall be ours

Decoration Day - by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


Life has loveliness to sell
All beautiful and splendid things
Blue waves whitened on a cliff
Soaring fire that sways and sings
And children's faces looking up
Holding wonder like a cup

Life has loveliness to sell
Music like a curve of gold
Scent of pine trees in the rain
Eyes that love you, arms that hold
And for your spirit's still delight
Holy thoughts that star the night

Spend all you have for loveliness
Buy it and never count the cost
For one white singing hour of peace
Count many a year of strife well lost
And for a breath of ectasy
Give all you have been, or could be

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Middle Tennessee Red Cross Chapters - Donate - Support Your Red Cross

(A flooded Grand Ole Opry House)

The American Red Cross continues its relief efforts for residents displaced by recent flooding across Middle and West Tennessee and is currently operating 17 emergency shelters throughout the region.  My friend, Erin, who works at HMG Nashville says shelters are at capacity, people are unaccounted for and many homes are under water.  Middle Tennessee is in a water conservation emergency.  Much of Nashville's economic base is threatened.  

Monday, Red Cross mass care officials distributed approximately 3,200 meals and over 10,000 snack items to shelter clients in Nashville and an additional 600 to shelters in outlying areas.  Since Saturday, approximately 7,500 meals have been distributed to shelter residents in the immediate Nashville area.   WSMV-TV Channel 4 will broadcast 'Working 4 You: Flood Relief with Vince Gill and Friends (including Steve Wariner) this Thursday night in prime time from 7 to 10pm.  All proceeds will benefit the Salvation Army, Red Cross and Second Harvest Food Bank.  Naomi Judd and Phil Vassar will also be performing, along with several others.  

Text 'REDCROSS' to 90999 to donate $10 to disaster relief.

Middle Tennessee Red Cross Chapters - Donate - Support Your Red Cross

Monday, May 3, 2010

How High's The Water, Mama?

8.2 inches of rain in two days.  It's been a long time since I've seen this much rain in so little time.  The mayor of one Tennessee town called it historical.  Last night, for me and my boys, it was more like -- hysterical.

We went up the road in the daylight hours, drove through the water on our road with no problem.  We returned 90 minutes later in the dark.  It never dawned on me that the level would rise so fast.  I realized it when my car stalled halfway into the knee-deep water,  I was able to back up and thought we would be able to get out of it.  That's when the water grabbed ahold of my car and swept it into a nearby ditch, almost flipping the automobile over on its side. We were able to exit the vehicle with little trouble, although Elijah literally had to "stand up" on the passenger side door and climb out.  That's how sideways the car was in the high water.

Then we had to wade through the knee-deep water in the pouring rain.  We were up until midnight bailing water from the floorboard.

We made it without any injuries and that is all that matters.  The water continued to rise on our road and this morning we had a small lake in front of our home.

But, as it goes, anytime you think you have it bad, you don't have to look too far to find someone else who has it worse than you.  17 people lost their lives in the region during the rains and the flooding that ensued.  While we are thankful that we were spared, our hearts go out to the families of those 17 people.

My mama always taught me that good things come from adversity if we put our faith in the Lord. We couldn't see much good in the flood waters when they were causing us to have to leave home, but when the water went down, we found that it had washed a load of rich black bottom dirt across our land. The following year we had the best cotton crop we'd ever had.

I remember hearing:
How high's the water, mama?  Two feet high and risin'
How high's the water, papa? Two feet high and risin'

We can make it to the road in a homemade boat. That's the only thing we got left that'll float.  It's already over all the wheat and the oats, two feet high and risin'
How high's the water, mama?  Three feet high and risin'
How high's the water, papa? Three feet high and risin'

Long may our Land be Bright with Freedom's Holy Light

Officially, the Continental Congress declared its freedom from Great Britain on July 2, 1776, but after voting to approve it, a draft do...