24 May 2019

[Fred Wheeler] - Origins of Memorial Day & the Great Debt We All Owe

The worsening lack of historical awareness of our society is saddening and frightening.  For a case in point, ask a group of young people what we will be celebrating on the Fourth of July. Or, what we are memorializing on the approaching Memorial Day. Chances are you will get a bunch of blank stares.

What we now call Memorial Day, before World War ll, was officially called “Decoration Day”. While several places claim to be its birthplace, the consensus is that the holiday’s genesis was in Columbus, Mississippi a year after the Civil War ended

Columbus was the location of a Confederate hospital.  After the battle of Shiloh (April 6-7, 1862) many of the wounded were brought there and by the end of the war, the community’s cemetery was the resting place for thousands of souls of Union and Confederate soldiers.

On Confederate Memorial Day (April 25, 1866) the ladies of Columbus laid flowers on the graves of both the Union and the Confederate dead in the cemetery. A poet, Francis Miles Finch, from Ithaca, New York, happened to be in Columbus at that time and was inspired by the ladies’ actions to write a poem, “The Blue and the Gray”. One of the verses reads,
                          “From the silence of sorrowful hours
                            The desolate mourners go,
                            Lovingly laden with flowers
                            Alike for the friend and the foe
                            Under the sod and the dew,
                            Waiting the judgement day;
                             Under the roses, the Blue,
                             Under the lilies, the Gray.”
Former Union General John A. Logan, then a congressman from Illinois and the commander-in-chief of the Grand Army of the Republic (a fraternal organization of veterans of Union service) led the campaign to have “Decoration Day” declared a national holiday. It was first celebrated on Saturday, May 30, 1868, a date chosen because it was not the anniversary of any significant battle and because it was when many flowers would be in bloom. On that first “Decoration Day” events were held in 183 cemeteries in 27 of the 37 states.

The name of the holiday was gradually changed to “Memorial Day” starting in the 1880s. One would think that “Decoration Day” would require the celebrant’s presence in the cemetery to place actual flowers on the graves. But, one could celebrate a “memorial” no matter where you might be. Finally, in 1967, the name was officially changed and in 1968, under the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, Memorial Day was moved to the last Monday in May.

What are we memorializing on Memorial Day? The table below gives an idea of the number (primarily young men at the prime of life) who have sacrificed their lives to protect our nation in time of war.

          WAR                                                                            TOTAL DEATHS (combat and non-combat)
Revolutionary War         1775-1783                                    25,000
War of 1812                     1812-1815                              15,000
Mexican-American War 1846-1848                                                     13,283
Civil War (combined)      1861-1865                                  664,035
        Union                                                                                          364,511
        Confederate                                                                                   299,524
World war l                       1917-1918                          116,516
World War ll                      1941-1945                          405,399
Korean War                       1950-1953                             36,516
Vietnam War                     1955-1975                              58,209
Afghanistan War               2001-Present                                 2,229
Iraq War                             2003-2011                            4,488
        TOTAL                                                                                       1,321,612
These figures don’t add up because only the major wars have been listed. The Civil War, in terms of deaths and percentage of the population has been the most costly. Young boys, north and south, are buried in hundreds of cemeteries accross  the country (mostly east of the Mississippi River).
The number of fatalities during the Civil War was bad enough, but because of one of the recruiting methods used by north and south, the impact on communities could be catastrophic. Often, a prominent person in the neighborhood would recruit and outfit a company of 100 or even a regiment of 1,000.
The First Texas, recruited from several counties in east Texas lost 82% of its regiment at Sharpsburg (Antietam), September 17,1862.  The 26th North Carolina from seven counties in the western part of the state, suffered 714 casualties out of 800 during the battle of Gettysburg. Eighteen members of the Christian family of Christianburg, Virginia, were killed during the war.
Our nation was slow to learn its lesson. During subsequent wars, units continued to be recruited from communities; friends and family members were encouraged to join and serve together. When I was about ten years old, I put together a model of a Navy destroyer, the U.S.S. Sullivans. It was named after the five Sullivan brothers who were killed when their ship was sunk by a Japanese submarine.
The numbers making the ultimate sacrifice are large, but it should be remembered that each digit represents a life interrupted, dreams unfulfilled, loved ones left with empty hearts. I knew several friends in school whose fathers had been killed in world War ll or the Korean War. To my knowledge, their widows never re-married.
A family’s loss is compounded when, for whatever reason, the body of the deceased soldier cannot be retrieved or cannot be identified. In response to this tragedy our government created  the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Washington, D.C. There, the bodies of one soldier from World War l, two from world War ll, and one from the Korean War lie protected around the clock by an armed guard. The tomb has been inscribed by a grateful nation with the simple words,
                                                           “HERE RESTS IN
                                                             HONERED GLORY
                                                             AN AMERICAN
                                                             KNOWN BUT TO GOD”
The tomb had contained a serviceman from the Vietnam War but he was removed in 1998 because he was identified through DNA as Air Force First Lt Michael Joseph Blassie. This had to be a comfort to his family, but it must have had the reverse effect on many other families who shared the hope that their loved one was at rest in the tomb.
The traveling Vietnam Memorial recently was in our community. You can find each of the 58,000 plus names on the wall and there is a website you can visit to get information about each person.
There’s only one person who I knew personally who was killed in Vietnam, Alan Calloway, who was in my high school class. We played football together. I often think of Alan and wish that he didn’t have to miss out on the rest of his life.
Another person I often think about I never met. When my daughter was in high school, the father of one of her classmates, an Air force pilot, Colonel Fallon, was still listed as MIA. I don’t know if he was ever re-classified as killed in action.
We owe a great debt to these noble warriors and their families who have suffered the loss of a parent, spouse, or child. It would be appropriate to remember that Memorial Day was created to memorialize those who died protecting our way of life—not just to give us a day off from work or to give us an opportunity to go the lake or grill hot dogs and hamburgers with the family.
Thank you, Alan and Colonel Fallen.

23 May 2019

Nature Watching with The Alibug: Eastern Sceech Owl Hiding Out; Thirsty American Goldfinch; Spiders & Snakes!!!

Greetings, readers, it's time for another communion with Nature, compliments of The Alibug - Ms. Alisa J. Brown


Today's special treat! ▶️🦉◀️
I posted on a bird page that I think my 'bird angel' is near...(that would be my mother! 🥰) After seeing the Red-headed Woodpecker (I'm still seeing it, too!!!) and being so delighted by it, I was walking down my driveway today just to see what I could see and I thought I saw EARS sticking out of a tree! They WERE ears! OWL ears!! I love owls and do not ever recall seeing one here in a nest cavity. But I did today!! 🤩

Eastern Screech Owl in a Knothole...

'WHOOO' Goes There?!'

Birds can 'lap' water, similar to dogs and cats! This male American Goldfinch has just snatched a drop from the water dripper, that's currently not quite 'dripping'!! (Need to fix that...not good for the well pump or water resources!) Birds LOVE fresh water, however, and if you have a birdbath or water dripper in your yard, you are very likely to see more birds!

This bird's parched! 

Snake coming down a trellis at the side of my porch about three feet from Steve! I had to point out there was a snake close enough that he could touch if he leaned forward! Reminded me of my mother saying, “If it had been a snake it would have bitten me!” Although a bit out of context since Steve wasn’t looking for a snake! But.....he SHOULD be especially since that little Copperhead nicked him last year!! 😳😁

*Ed.note: I would've screamed like a little girl & went running away at a fast pace! -MBM

It's getting pretty buggy out there! Now if the Yellow Jackets, Mosquitos, and Japanese Beetles will stay away, i'll be good! This is one of our most colorful spiders in Georgia... it's an Orchard Web Weaver. I look for them every year. And those shiny little eyes are looking at me!

Ed.note II: Nothing like walking through one of these as I did some years back; 'I screamed like a little girl & went running away at a fast pace' while frantically brushing & hitting myself. 

Multi-generational Newtonian & former WGFS radio host, Ms. Alisa loves the outdoors, birds, the arts, fine dining & great music. She's also got a thing for pirates... An absolutely wonderful woman, we're so glad to have her beautiful nature pics here at TPC. 

22 May 2019

[Ellis Millsaps] - The View From Porterdale: Let It Bleed

This is the view from my front porch. In particular, it is the view of our neighborhood gang’s territorial marker. I've written about this before. Other than the shoes, I've seen no sign of their existence. I mean we haven't had a decent drive by shooting since I've lived here. I'm beginning to think they're like Spanky and Our Gang or Kool & the Gang, or maybe I haven't seen them because they're all now in the chain gang.

I was sitting on my porch a few weeks ago when a kid on a bicycle pulls up. I guessed he was about seven years old.

“Hello,” he says.


“How are you doing?”

“I'm doing well. How about you?”

“I'm pretty good.”

The conversation seems to be lagging so I say, "nice day to ride a bicycle,” for it is indeed a fine spring day.
“Yeah.”  Long pause. “I can ride my bicycle without training wheels.”
“I can do that too.”
Another long pause. “ Yeah, but you're an old man.”


I get my television from YouTube TV.  Thirty five dollars a month and I can watch it anywhere.

Something that puzzles me is  that in the last month they have started pre-empting commercials. You'll see the start of the commercial, then you see a screen that says” You're watching MSNBC [ or whatever]  on YouTube TV, accompanied by innocuous porn movie music, i. e., music they don't have to buy the rights to.

This doesn't bother me-- I'd likely mute the commercials anyway-- but how can they get by with this? Advertisers paid money to produce this show. The show wouldn't exist without them. The deal is” we’ll make your show and in exchange you air our commercials.” How can YouTube present the show without the commercials? Yet they show some of them. How does this work? Someone explain this to me. Google doesn't seem to know...

This is the entrance to the Porterdale community garden, a wonderful Institution excellently managed by Candace Hassen, who also designs beautiful quilts.

Here is my plot. The things with the alligator looking leaves are the artichoke plants I started from seed indoors in February. I'm hoping for 30 or so artichokes in late summer.

These are shots of Porterdale in the spring.

I seem to have made it to another one. As WC Fields said,” If I had known I was going to live this long I would have taken better care of myself.”

Should I get around to executing a living will before I in fact need it, my first dictate on when the doc should pull the plug is when I am no longer able to control hair growing out of my ears.

Here is the array at the Porterdale Bar and Grill where I do some of my writing. Such a lovely sight, and speaking of lovely sights,

Here are my PB&G girlfriends, El and Tina.


I've always wondered what MLB does with all those baseballs which are thrown out when they hit the ground. My friend TJ Alexander used to maintain that they clean them off and put them  back in the game. That would defeat the whole point of this wasteful practice which is that the pitcher should not be able to throw a scuffed baseball which could increase movement on his pitches. If he were caught scuffing the ball himself-- and it has been done. Sandpaper hidden in the glove-- he would be a ejected, fined and suspended.

I always figured they sent them to the minor leagues. Turns out I too am wrong. I've written about how emphasis on launch angle has led to a record-breaking number of home runs in the past two years. and maybe they juiced the baseball. No way of knowing.

Well it turns out we do have a way of knowing, and they have juiced the ball. I recently heard on ESPN that this year for the first time the baseball hierarchy is using the major league ball at the Triple-A level. The number of home runs there has doubled.

Summary of the Newton Co. BOC General Meeting from 5/21/19

* a special thanks to Ms. Jackie Smith, Clerk of the Newton Co. BOC , for the wonderful job she does including getting these summaries out in a very timely manner. Thank you, Ms. Jackie. - MB McCart, Ed.

1124 Clark Street
Covington, Georgia
Regular Meeting
Agenda Summary
May 21, 2019

Newton Co. BOC Contact Info

Thought for the day…

The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.

7:00 p.m. 1. Call to Order: Chairman Marcello Banes
2. Invocation: Pastor Mike Franklin, Solid Rock Baptist Church

                       3. Pledge of Allegiance:  Commissioner Demond Mason

4. Agenda Adoption
Approved 5/0 with changes.
  • Removed Item #11 and item #13

                        5. Citizen Comments
6. Chairman’s Report
  • Robert Foxworth
  • Coach Rick Rasmussen
  • Ralph Staffins
  • JDA Update

7. County Manager’s Report:
H/O Miscellaneous Reports
8. Old Business:
BOC: Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP)
(Budget Amendment Request tabled till May 21st.)
Denied budget amendment request, but approved moving forward with RFP for Professional Services Consultant.
4/0/1 (Abstention: Commissioner Henderson)
Preferred two motions instead of combining motion into one.