Friday, June 2, 2017

We Remember on Memorial Day Weekend

I spent a restful Memorial Day weekend, mulling about the house or observing the holiday with respect for those fallen.Everywhere I drove had their flags displayed and I even spotted a few hand painted signs by the sides of roads saying, 'Thank you to our Troops'.
I pottered around a little on the edge of WV on Saturday, trying to avoid the rain, but for the most part, failing. The skies were heavy and grey, roads wet, with gorged creeks and rivers a constant reminder of the heavy deluges we'd been having for the past couple of weeks.
 As well as some quirky WV landmarks, I came across a small abandoned store with a rusted Mustang collapsing out front. Through the dusty window I could see a 1965 calendar hanging next to a register but looking at the more recent products still sitting on the shelves I don't think that was the last date it was open. I didn't find another Red Man sign like this one on the internet though, so that was evidently quite ancient.
It was nice to see some homes decorated in red, white and blue, colors that were brilliant against a stormy sky.
At Monocacy Battlefield on Sunday. Bill and I took photos of this field, the flags showing the cost of war, each one representing a life. In the day long battle, the Confederates lost about 900 soldiers, while the Union lost nearly 1300.
The Star Spangled Banner flags fluttered alongside the Second National Flag of the Confederacy. The Confederate flag shown here was often mistaken as a flag of surrender and later had a vertical red band added at the end.
 In the museum was a model, with narration and lights that lit up illustrating how the battle proceeded throughout the day of July 9, 1864. I stood watching the blinking tiny bulbs making there way up and down and across the board, trying to imagine how the soldiers felt during those hours, the struggle of overcoming tiredness and fear, the dread felt by those new to holding a gun and bayonet.
John Glenn H. Worthington watched the battle at six years old, and later in life, led the effort to preserve the battlefield as a National Park.
We left the field with its flags moving slowly in the breeze, the air seeming solemn and the visitors walking around quietly, talking softly.
Later, down by the C and O Canal we chatted to a cyclist who was traveling 75 miles that day. He admitted to being tired, and I really felt for him as he slowly pedaled off on his last leg of 15 miles before he could stop at the motel he'd booked into. Splattered with mud and with the rain trying to come down as we walked away, I guessed he was already dreaming of a hot shower.
By the swollen Potomac, a mother and son were fishing, hoping to entice the slippery crafty critters who were jumping and leaping out of the water in front of us. The woman told us of a small group who had actually put in to the river about an hour ago, 2 adults and 3 young children, none wearing PFDs. The man had demanded the kids, who were apparently terrified and crying, climb in the boat and had then floated off down stream, with no motor that could power them back up river again against the current. He had taken 2 paddles with him but looking at the rushing and eddying water I doubted he could have paddled fast enough to get back to this ramp. We all cursed his stupidity and the next day I was thankful to find on line that no river rescues involving this group had been needed.
On Memorial Day I visited Warrenton Cemetery. Back in April vandals had caused terrible damage here, randomly knocking over and breaking 93 headstones. It's despicable that this place of rest was desecrated. Some of these graves date back to the 1700's, the headstones weighing a great deal, so this was an intentional crime.
The perpetrators were never caught but I was relieved to see that some repairs had been made, tombstones standing again and cleaned. There were a lot of broken headstones still, but I read that the Fauquier Historical Society has started a fund for these repairs, hoping to raise $50,000. It seems a gentleman from PA is going to help with the restoration.
A few folk were quietly remembering friends or family in the cemetery, which was now silent after its memorial ceremony earlier in the day. The rain had finally left, leaving the warm sun to shine down and light those resting silently beneath the grass.

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