Hubby here. Once again it is Memorial Day, the first holiday of the summer. We'll be cooking brats and ribs with our daughter and her family, you'll be doing much the same I expect. But while you are enjoying good food and family take just a moment to remember those who sacrificed in the past for generations to come. Some were seriously injured, some came home in one piece to their families and sadly, some never came back.
It's been 150 years since the War Between the Sates was fought over four bloody years. While most of the action occurred in the east, the largest battle west of the Mississippi River took place in Pea Ridge, Arkansas. Most of the fighting in this area was the result of the Confederacy trying to convince Missouri to secede. Besides Pea Ridge there were smaller battles in Prairie Grove and the city of Fayetteville.
It's easy for us to look back and question the motives of the southern soldiers. Certainly slavery was evil. But most of these soldiers didn't own slaves. Our country was still young. Travel was difficult and most related to their state rather than the country as a whole. They were Virginians, Carolinian, and Arkansans until they joined together as the Confederate States of America. Here's a LINK to that post.
They came from Missouri, Louisiana and Texas during a time most people, during their short life, never traveled more a few miles from where they were born. These folks did. They just didn't come home. Many of them rest in the old Confederate Cemetery in Fayetteville. I'm pleased to tell you that there has been work here since my post last year. Using ground penetrating radar to locate the remains of soldiers who previously had no marker a number of new graves have been discovered. I read that markers are being added to those spots. They are still unknown soldiers but at least they have been recognized.
But of course there have been markers. The trees have watched over these soldiers. They provide shade in the summer. Always they stand at attention as if to salute those who rest beneath. These ancient trees speak to me. I wonder if they speak to each other?
Do they encourage each other to be strong? In the face of decades of tornadoes, ice storms, wind storms, droughts, floods, and everything else that nature has offered them, they don't give up. I saw a very large depression in the ground with the remnants of a rotten stump. Do the trees whisper to each other that one of them has fallen? Does this increase their resolve to remain strong until the younger trees can grow to a size to shade the soldiers?
They shade the grave of General Slack. And they shade the graves of all the unknown soldiers who rest with him.
How long can they continue to stand and put out leaves each spring?
They remind me of a photo I saw of a 92 year old World War II veteran who had the opportunity to visit the new WWII memorial in Washington, DC. He flew out on a Honor Flight from our airport wearing his old uniform. My company helps sponsor these flights so that the few surviving WWII vets who are able to travel have the opportunity to see it. Anyhow, in the picture he made a valiant effort to stand straight and salute.
The trees here are very much like this gentleman. Proud to salute those resting there but too old to stand straight anymore.
I wonder if they will still be there next Memorial Day? Will any finally fall when the next storm comes? Or will they make it another year? Just waiting for the small ones to relieve them of guard duty?
With quiet dignity and resolve they stand... and have stood.
These ancient guardians made of wood
Watch and shelter the men who rest beneath
Their broken arms and leafy wreaths
Their roots embrace the mighty flood
Nourished by their heroes' blood
The old Confederate cemetery is so quiet and isolated it seems impossible it can be so close to downtown Fayetteville.
This stone is in the Fayetteville National Cemetery and like most of the stones in the Confederate Cemetery it honors someone unknown. Someones father, husband, friend. Somewhere there are people wondering what happened to him and where he can be? I wish I could tell them to rest easy, because he is, and he is honored on this Memorial Day.