Saturday, January 28, 2017

We're in the deep South!

Hello from Ft. Morgan, AL, my home for the next month.  That's actually Don waving from the base of the huge live oak tree dripping with Spanish Moss.

We left snowy Wisconsin last Tuesday, earlier than planned when we learned that a major winter storm was predicted to come our way. We wanted to get ahead of the storm and be south of it when it rolled across the Midwest. And we were successful! The plan had been to spend the first night at our son's home in Milwaukee but when we learned on the way there that Erin and two of the kids were sick with bad colds, we decided to simply drop off the things we were bringing them and go on our way. Erin sounded relieved when I told her we wouldn't be staying!  And we didn't want to get sick at the beginning of our vacation!

One of the things I brought to them was the (blue and white) log cabin quilt. Erin spread it on their bed, and I was relived that it was large enough to cover, and she seemed very pleased with it. Dan was at work and I haven't heard anything from him as to whether or not he likes it. Oh well, too bad if he doesn't, right?

Because we didn't stay in Milwaukee we were able to get as far as Southern Illinois for the first night.  As I was studying the atlas to plan our route for the next day--we were looking for a route to Birmingham bypassing Nashville where traffic is horrendous!--I noticed that we could easily visit the Military Battlefield National Park at Shiloh, TN.  Both Don and I are historians and really enjoy touring historic sites so we set our GPS for Shiloh National Military Park.

We arrived there about 2 hours before the park closed for the day, so we took  in the movie--which was an excellent overview of the battle and the importance of it to both sides of the Civil War--and prowled around the museum and bookstore until the staff was ready to throw us out.  The next morning, we spent about 4 hours going through the park and cemetery.

Fog on the battlefield

The photo above is one section of the battlefield.  This park is a lot like Gettysburg--lots of monuments and memorials, for both Union and Confederate forces--and a 12+ mile driving tour which we did. There's also a National military cemetery, on top of the bluff overlooking the very beautiful Tennessee River.  I took this picture of the drive to the river, alongside of the cemetery, in the early morning sunlight.

All in all, we're both glad we took the time to tour this National Park.  Over 23,000 men died during the 2 day battle and it brought home to both of us, the madness of war. Wouldn't you think that people would be able to work out our differences without killing each other? 

After we finished at the park, we had a short drive to Birmingham where we met up with my brother-in-law and two of his (adult) children and twin grandsons.  My sister died in 1989 when the children were still at home and in school, and somehow, I lost track of these nephews and niece until 2012 when we took our first trip to Alabama and reconnected with them.  I really enjoy seeing them and getting to know them a bit, and I hope we're able to see them more and more in the future.

At any rate, we left Birmingham early yesterday morning and stopped in Montgomery to visit the Civil Rights Memorial which is very impressive.  This memorial honors 40 of the many Americans, mostly African Americans, who gave up their lives in the struggle to gain their rights as American citizens.  

Maya Lin, Civil Rights Memorial

This is a photo taken from the website, of Maya Lin, the sculptor who created the Vietnam Memorial in Washington DC, and who also designed the memorial in Montgomery.  According to the website, "Lin found her inspiration in the words 'until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream,' a paraphrase from the Book of Amos that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. used in his "I Have a Dream" speech and at the start of the Montgomery bus boycott." She created the circular plaque with the events of the civil rights movement and the names of the 40 dead etched into the marble, with water flowing smoothly over all of it. This memorial was another very moving place for us, and we both added our names to the Wall of Tolerance, and pledged to "take a stand against hate, injustice and intolerance. I will work in my daily life for justice, equality and human rights--the ideals for which the Civil Rights martyrs died."   

Once again, Don and I were struck by the seemingly never ending slaughter of people with opposite viewpoints.  Will it ever end?

After we left Montgomery, it was a straight shot to Ft. Morgan and by 7 pm we were all settled into our cottage and ready to begin our winter hiatus here on the Gulf of Mexico.  Unfortunately, it's cool and overcast today, so we won't be outdoors too much other than to take a walk when it gets a little warmer later this afternoon. Otherwise, I'm going to set up my sewing machine and do a little stitching.

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