Monday, May 28, 2012

In the Presence of a Civil War Soldier

After hours of 95+ degrees yesterday, we took a trolley with the air conditioner cranked up to cool us down.  The corn must have grown an inch after the sustaining rains the night before.

Decorated Country  Cemetery
Alongside a gravel road, this patriotic rainbow caught our eye.  We stopped to snap a couple of pictures.  It's that business of living the moment and taking that moment home to relive later.

An iron fence secures this country cemetery, as does a grove of trees.  A sacred serenity, was my first thought.  A place of no pain, no suffering, and no fear.  It's that business of the double-edged sword.  No happiness either.

Civil War Gravestone
I stood outside the fence and looked down at the aged gravestone directly in front of me.  Can you believe that I was standing inches away from a Civil War soldier?  On the left side of the stone, the star flag holder read, "GAR 1861-1865."  What are the chances of that happening on the Eve of Memorial Day?

All of me was humbled and reverenced.  To think there lay a veteran member of the Grand Army of the Republic, one of the most powerful organizations of Civil War Veterans.

While researching the GAR, I came upon this paragraph that tells the reason these fraternal organizations were formed following the  Civil War.....

"Probably the most profound emotion was emptiness.  Men who had lived together, fought together, foraged together and survived, had developed a unique bond that could not be broken. As time went by, the memories of the filthy and vile environment of camp life began to be remembered less harshly and eventually fondly.  The horror and gore of battle lifted with the smoke and smell of burnt black powder and was replaced with the personal rain of tears for the departed comrades.  Friendships forged in battle survived the separation, and the warriors missed the warmth of trusting companionship that had asked only total and absolute commitment.  With that as background, groups of men began joining together."  (Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War)

Last night's trolley turned into an unexpected rich experience.  Reading a book about the Civil War is one thing.  Standing where a Civil War soldier rests, is another.  We'll never know what this soldier saw, what he felt, where he fought, or anything about his family.  The important thing is that we honor his heroic efforts, and that's what Memorial Day is all about.