Red Sky at Morning…..

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March 18, 2022, Newnan, GA- The scene this morning, over Lake Redwine was beautiful, if a bit ominous.

My brother, Dave, and I headed out early towards Andersonville, the site of the largest Confederate prisoner-of-war camp (1864-65) and of the modern National Prisoner-of-War Museum. We drove down, past the central Georgia cities of Columbus and Macon, through the smaller communities of Buena Vista and Ellaville, getting gas at the former. Once we got to the village of Andersonville, a kind lady gave us directions to the park itself.

We found ourselves blessed with cloudy, but not rainy, skies for most of the time we were in the outdoor Prison Site. Andersonville was established when smaller prisoner-of-war camps in Virginia and Alabama became overcrowded. Union soldiers, suspected spies and captured free Blacks were housed here, under increasingly fraught conditions. The facility was originally intended to house a maximum of 10,000 prisoners; at war’s end, 32,000 were incarcerated there. It was minimally-funded, and at various times during the Civil War’s late phase, prisoners were either housed in tents or were told to fashion their own accommodations, from whatever materials they could find.

Monuments exist, in honour of captured soldiers from several states. Here is the memorial to Wisconsin’s captives.

The North Gate of the tightly-built stockade, in which newly-arrived prisoners were oriented to the prison camp, has been restored.

The facility’s main water source was Stockade Branch, a low-flowing, fetid creek. Dysentery and vermin were rife, and 13,000 people died at the camp, in only 14 months. Food supplies were meager. One miraculous event relieved the misery, somewhat. In August, 1864, a sudden downpour, accompanied by a lightning strike, resulted in a spring being opened. Grateful prisoners dubbed this water source Providence Spring.

The camp’s commandant, Captain Henry Wirz, was a Swiss immigrant who had settled in Virginia and was sympathetic to the Confederate cause. He was alternately regarded as a fair-minded man, in over his head and an uncompromising brute. Wirz was singled out, after the war, tried for war crimes and executed by a tribunal.

Andersonville has a sizable National Military Cemetery, still in use for contemporary veterans’ burials. A freed prisoner, Dorence Atwater, worked with Clara Barton after the war, to identify those buried at the cemetery, from prison records, which Atwater himself copied and smuggled out of the facility, upon his release at war’s end.

The Prisoner-of-War Museum honours all American Prisoners-of-War, from the Revoutionary War through the Afghanistan Conflict. Exhibitions also contain information about Confederate soldiers held at Elmira, New York-a facility which was no better than Andersonville; Axis soldiers held at camps in the United States, during World War II and British prisoners of war held both during the War for Independence and the War of 1812. A display on Native Americans from the various “Indian Wars”, is included in the museum, as well.

There are spoken presentations by the late John McCain and Admiral James Stockdale, mirroring the overall message: “War is hell!”.

May the departed prisoners rest in peace, and may we soon learn the meaning of universal brotherhood.

Walk Forward; Love All Life

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January 20, 2021- In the end, there were no Cabal Trials-and most likely, there is no Cabal, at least not the widespread, nefarious and nearly impregnable network. In the end, the 45th President of the United States took his ball, his fig leaf and whatever memorabilia he chose to bring with him, made two fairly benign speeches and left what his successor described as a “generous” letter, before taking what is likely his final ride on Air Force One, going to his rest haven in Florida.

The transition was well-guarded and peaceful. There was a gentle Inaugural Address from the 46th President, not rambling and with only a few stumbles in pronunciation. I doubt I’ve have done any better. It was essentially what the nation and the world needed to hear. There were heartfelt, well-delivered prayers. A widely popular Country & Western singer offered “Amazing Grace”. An equally popular Pop singer served up “This Land Is Your Land” and “America the Beautiful”. A gifted singer, who once opted for the outrageous in her performances, gave a stellar rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner”. The youngest prominent American poet in decades, gave a heartfelt recitation, as our first National Poet Laureate.

What does not change is the need to examine major issues facing the country from all legitimate angles. The environment is not immune from human influence. Some aspects of climate change are cyclical and would be catastrophic, regardless of the levels of pollution and wanton degradation. There is, however, much that we can, and should, do to safeguard our planet-and by extension, our solar system. Personal attention to conservation begins, as the late John McCain once said, at home. Recycling, in an era of concern for its cost, is tricky, but still must be consistently endeavoured. Water is an essential part of any community development, and requires careful usage, particularly in areas beset by drought. Air quality is likewise a key concern.

Our dietary health is essential. Despite claims from large corporations involved in genetic modification of foods, and their pop culture shills on television and social media outlets, human beings are not meant to subsist on a diet of monocultural crops, nor are such commodities helpful in soil conservation. A wide variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds, herbs and spices, consumed with or without a modest amount of meat, and preferably grown organically, represent the best regimen for disease-free living.

No human being capable of thought and reason deserves to be deprived of the right to make decisions which affect life and well-being. Women inherently have the right to decide what happens with their bodies. The issue can, and does, get messy when it comes to matters of sexuality and procreation. Education is the only path to informed choice, when it comes to abortion and the practice of circumcision (genital mutillation).

Each of the above issues has become fuzzy, due to the influence of deep-pocketed economic interests. Large corporations, such as Monsanto, and financially-driven nonprofits, such as Planned Parenthood, have exercised their influence, in promoting practices that are not necessarily carried out with the interests of individual human beings, including pre-born children, in mind. So, it falls to a widely-based coalition of citizens to build and carry out education programs that can counteract the propaganda of monetized interests.

The current administration has already shown concern for the environment. Its positions on the other two issues are less clear, thus pointing to the need for truly extending its path forward towards consideration for holistic health and the promotion of strong, healthy parents, children and families.