Here in the great state of Georgia it would seem that we are still trying to come to terms with our ugly past regarding slavery and our secession from the Union. Currently many African American groups are demanding that our General Assembly make a formal apology for slavery. It looks like a done deal and I have no problems with this at all. What I do take issue with is some of our Southern heritage groups have tried to retaliate by demanding their own month long observance for the history of their heritage. I could go on and on and on about this issue and how absurd it all is but I won’t. I would like to show in my seven though there is much more to southern heritage than some might imagine…..
1. I am thankful for my father who has researched our family back at least seven generations. There is something quite satisfying to know how you are connected to the early history of a place and to know that your children have that family history to hold on to and to pass on.
2. I am from a long line of English men and women who tilled the land. They arrived in South Carolina and at one point crossed the mountains into Georgia where they obtained land in the lottery. I know that they were made of much sterner stuff than I…..before the advent of superhighways and Wendy’s drive-thrus they trekked across mountains that I now vacation in and rent fancy cabins with fantastic views from my outdoor hot tub (not to mention the funnel cakes).
3. I’m thankful for my grandfather many times over named Isaac who fought in the American Revolution at the Battle of Cowpens and other places in the South. I’m also thankful for my ancestors who fought in the Civil War. Sadly I have no journals, letters, or other primary sources to let me know why they fought. Census reports from the years before the war do not indicate any slaves were owned so it can be concluded that they didn’t have a stake in the outcome of the war in that regard, however, they did fight for the south. Was it states rights? Was it hope that their fortunes would improve allowing them the same lifestyle of the minority wealthy planters? I’ll never know, but obviously they felt a certain way and made a stand and stuck to it. I guess all Americans must grapple with this problem since many of the architects of our liberty from English tyranny held slaves while stating all men are created equal. I guess you just have to put yourself in the context of the times.
4. I’m thankful for my Uncle Homer who could always be counted on to gather up young and old alike following our dinner-on-the-ground during our annual family reunions. He would shoo us all into the church for singing. He couldn’t sing a lick but it was such fun to see how enthusiastic he was standing up and leading all of us while we melted in the hardbacked pews since there was no air conditioning for the church back in the 70s. There were always plenty of the paper fans with funeral home advertisements on one side and pictures of Jesus on the other for us to revive one another with though.
5. I’m thankful that here in the south you can get away with more political “UN”correctness as far as talking about Jesus, the Bible, and other matters of chuch without offending anyone. I mean when you live in a small town and everyone goes to one of the three or four churches, well……it’s just not that big of a deal, you know. The biggest religious controversy is which denomination lets out first and takes up all the booths at the diner.
6. I’m thankful for the 89 acres that has been in my father’s family for three generations. The picture with this post was taken back in the 1960s on ‘the place”. The view is looking across the street from my grandfather's house to his mother's place. It was built in the late 1890s. Since my dad is now surrounded with countryclub communities I doubt it will stay that way for long, but my children enjoy walking over the same fields their grandparents, great-grandparents, their great-greats, and their great-great-greats planted, plowed, and harvested by hand…….no slaves, no workers----just them and a mule and a plow.
7. Finally, I’m thankful for the heritage of food in the South. Cornbread, Vidalia Onions, creamed corn, fried okra, green beans, cole slaw, fried apple pies, fried green tomatos….I could go on and on…..all types of wonderful foods my ancestors never went to the store to buy….they raised it all themselves on the land and prepared it themselves.
It would seem that as I come to the end of this Sunday Seven focusing on heritage you could say mine is tied up in land and God. These are two of things that brought Englishmen to America, so how could my heritage be anything else. God and land…..God and country……God and the United States of America!
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