Monday, August 27, 2012

The Blue and Gray


well my dear ones,


Each year, on her birthday,

I take my wife wherever she wishes to go.


One year, she chose the Navy UDT*-Seal Museum

(* Underwater Demolition Team)

located in St. Lucie, Florida.

When the former Navy Seal who ran the museum

found out that she could have gone anywhere,

yet chose "his" museum,

my wife got the red carpet treatment

(while I sort of got shuffled aside *lol*),

the grand guided tour,

along with free books and videos.

I learned a valuable lesson that day;

if someone dedicates their life to something,

the best thing you can do for them is

not to contribute money to their cause,

but rather just to show appreciation

for what they have done and are doing.


Anyway, this year, my wife chose

to go to Fitzgerald, Georgia,

specifically to an attraction known as

"The Blue and Gray Museum."

(yes, my wife is big on history,

 especially that of the Civil War)


The place has an odd logo, a drawing of

a Union and a Confederate soldier shaking hands.

When I first saw it, I was like,

"Yeah, right, like that ever happened."


As it turns out, I was way more wrong

than I could ever have guessed.


In 1895, a former drummer for the Union Army,

now turned newspaperman and philanthropist,

wanted to help impoverished war veterans

in his native state of Indiana;

he proposed to start a colony for

Civil War veterans somewhere in the south.


The Governor of Georgia liked his plan

and said he would personally tour the state

with P.H. Fitzgerald until they found a site

which would be suitable.


A logging camp for turpentine production

in the town of Swan was chosen,

land was purchased,

and the town planning began.

However, long before the planning was done

people started pouring in;

they put up temporary shacks

(so many that the place was called Shacktown

 before being later renamed to Fitzgerald).


Veterans poured in from all over the country;

in a short time, there were 5000 people,

mostly Union veterans, but one third of them

were former Confederate soldiers.

The one thing they had in common

was a determination to make this thing work,

to form a colony with the men

who had been their bitter enemies.


The War Between the States

was one of the nastiest wars ever.

The three million participants

in the Civil War

were using Napoleonic tactics

that were unsuited to

the advances in their armament;

hence, the high casualty rate

which was the largest percentage

of any war;

600,000 people killed,

two percent of the U.S. population at the time.

It was a close-in and bloody conflict

and the tensions were still high,

even 30 years after the end.


Yet despite the bitterness,

the colonists were determined

to work things out.

Nothing showed this better

than at the town's first big celebration

where a band was supposed to play

while first the Union

and then the Confederate soldiers

were to march separately.


But on their own,

the two groups changed the plan

of the organizers

and marched out together as one,

which is how they said

they wanted to face any future conflicts.

Now that's what I'd call

a real spirit of forgiveness.


I came away really impressed

with the background of this town

and I hope the next time

I come across someone who needs forgiveness

I'm able to recall what these guys accomplished.

Have a great week!

grace, peace, and love to you,



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