Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Northern Virginia Daylily Society

Hello Daylily Friends,

Diana and I have just had the most wonderful adventure.  We were invited to travel to Washington, D. C., to speak to the Northern Virginia Daylily Society.  Diana made the travel arrangements, and we did something very different: we rode the train!  Our daughter Kelley Rae drove us to the Brookwood Station in Atlanta, and there we caught the train going to Union Station in Washington, D. C.  The train ride was like going back in time by perhaps 75 years.  The train was almost completely full, and there were so many sights to see.  I took one picture of a gentleman wearing a suit getting his shoes shined in Union Station.  Such an unusual sight.

One reason that I was so excited about going to Washington was so that I could take the time and go see the Burnside Bridge at Antietam in Maryland.  I wanted to go see the Bridge because members of the Waldrop family were with General Lee when he took his Army of Northern Virginia to Antietam.  About 500 men in several Georgia Regiments held the bridge while General Lee led the army back to Virginia.  On the way to Antietam I saw an old house that looked important, and I pulled into the driveway.  Then I saw this magnificant statute of General Lee looking toward Antietam.  While I was at Antietam I noticed that there were no monuments recognizing Southern efforts, and even the statue of General Lee was put where it is by a private citizen.  There wasn't even a fitting tribute to the Georgia troops who held the Burnside Bridge.  So much for fairness at park battlefields.

The saddest thing that I saw at Antietam was the "Sunken Road."  It was a road where wagons had traveled for years, and truly the road was "sunken."  Because of the low endenture of the road, the Southern army used the road as the center of its line.  Twice the Union charged the line, but sustained many casualties.  Finally the Union troops, who were over 10,000 men, flanked to the right of the road, and gained the high ground over the 3,000 Southern troops entrenched in the road.  The carnage was horrible.  We lost 2,500 men.  It was the end of the war even though the war lasted another two years.  I'm showing a picture of the Sunken Road which is also called Bloody Lane.

While we were in Washington we were fortunate to stay at the new home of our AHS Registrar, Kevin Walek, and his lovely wife Dee.  Dee recently retired, and Kevin is also close to retirement from his legal position with the Federal Government.  Kevin previously served on the AHS Board of Directors, and he was subsequently elected twice to serve as our AHS President.  Kevin's work as our President was a blessing to our Society.  Kevin drove us to our meeting at
Maggiano's Restaurant where we met several members of the Club who we had met before in Valdosta, Georgia, including Ms. Janice Kennedy.  Janice is a former Club President, and is an avid gardener.  We also met Cyril Weller who is the Club's President and Kathleen Schloeder who is our new AHS Endowments Chair.  The meal served at Maggianos was just fabulous!  Then, I gave the program, auctioned some daylilies, and took a picture of members of the Club which I am showing.

On Sunday morning Diana and I went to Manassas to see where the Civil War started.  We were particularly impressed with the explanation of the battle inside the Visitor Center.  It was the best explanation of a battle that I have heard at any of the Visitor Centers.  At Manassas it looked like all was lost, and that the Union had won the day.  Then General Jackson and his brigade took a position on what is known as Henry Hill.  Then Confederate General Barnard Bee rallied his men with the call, "There stands Jackson like a stone wall!"  Because of Stonewall Jackson's leadership the first battle of the Civil War was won by the Confederacy.

The other place that Diana and I wanted to see was the Martin Luther King memorial.  We made our way to the memorial, and we were impressed with what we saw.  The memorial is much more impressive when seen in person rather than simply looking at a picture on the news.  Diana's attention was drawn toward the sculpting of Dr. King's hands.  The words written on the wall behind the statute also demanded attention.  We had been to the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Alabama, and had seen the words carved there that we also carved into the wall in Washington.  So we took a picture.  Dr. King was indeed a powerful man of God sent to lead our nation to the promised land, where, indeed, "all men are created equal."

It seems to me that Diana and I were blessed to have had a snapshot of realism of how we came to be where we are today as a nation.  We began as a people joined together in freedom, except for black people.  We fought a war that decided the issue, and established that all Americans are truly free: that slavery is wrong.  Then, it took about a hundred years before true freedom was recognized in our laws.  I must say that it pains me that we here in the South lost the war, but of course it is better for all of us that freedom prevails for everyone. 

Thanks again to Kevin and Dee, and to the Northern Virginia Daylily Society, for inviting us to come to Washington and speak, and to also enjoy our nation's grand heritage.  Happy Thanksgiving.


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