Posts Tagged With: Battlefields


DSC06935 (Copy)There is an upside to downsizing. My cousin Debbie collects postcards and while going through my stuff I found a scrapbook of a trip to Texas. I grabbed some pages and put them in a box to mail, thinking explanatory stuff might interest her. But, oh the memories.  Dallas/Fort Worth really does have more shops than New York, more music than Nashville and more thrills than Disneyland. We went to the stockyards and saw a cattle drive that was a life-sized sculpture of long horns crossing a river. Museums, art galleries, the Hard Rock Cafe, the White Elephant Saloon, a cooling water walk, Assyrian treasures at Kimball, Cavanaugh Flight Museum, a sewing machine museum, the H.W. Perry Homestead.  We followed the footsteps of Kennedy’s assassin at Dealy Plaza and the grassy knoll.  We could easily have spent three weeks there, so much to see and do.

DSC06933 (Copy)Our method suited both my husband’s and my personality. He would write for tourist information, we’d fly into the major airport, rent a car and do as much as we could during a 3 to 4 week period. In Houston, the Sam Houston Museum, the Astrodome, LBJ Space Center, San Jacinto Battlefield,  Missons. We toured the Battleship Texas, and the Funeral Services Museum. We really did go to Billy Bob’s  Honky Tonk, (disappointing) and  Ruth’s Chris steak house, but we didn’t order steaks the size of a roast. George wanted to go to the Millionaires Club, just for a peek, but realized you need to be a millionaire.

DSC06936 (Copy)We drove to Galveston and visited the historic Moody Mansion, The Texas Seaport Museum where I got my art fix watching Anthony Blackman draw. The old downtown area is quite small and interesting. A Mardi Gras Museum,  History of the Galveston Hurricane of 1900. The best estimate of life lost was six thousand perished, one of the worst disasters in our nation’s history. We took pictures of a mansion with a two  foot picket fence. The other four feet were covered in mud and the owners never rebuilt. They chose to live in what was the top two floors of the mansion.  I loved Galveston.

We drove to San Antonio to see the Alamo. Texans didn’t set aside land around the Alamo. It sits on a city block with businesses surrounding it, smaller than you’d think.  The missions- magnificent edifices in stone, a cool place rest. The Arts are the heart of San Antonio at La Villita with glass blowers, candle making, stained glass, weavers, jewelry, etc. And, every where we ate Tex Mex, different from California Mex. The best River Walk in Texas, on the San Antonio River right through the middle of town. Cooling, breathtaking.

Then to Austin, to visit the State Capital building, the Governor’s Mansion, LBJ Library, the amazing Bishops Palace resembles Chateau of France. George didn’t want to see a bunch of bats, but I’d heard about Mexican bats living under a bridge in Austin and I worked to convince him. It helped to have a nearby journalism  museum.  We sat on the grassy banks of the river. When it got dark, the bats flowed out in waves of millions swooping up and down the river, wave, after wave, after wave.

Once we got home, the thing that impressed him the most of our entire trip was the bats. I enjoyed his enthusiasm for the bats, as he told everyone we met about them.

My favorite experiences from that trip? The bats, the funeral museum and the San Antonio river walk. American diversity, every state a marvel.



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The visitors center for the Civil War battlefield at Shiloh is located near Savannah, Tennessee. We stopped there and saw a 45 minute, excellent film re-enactment of this important, strategic battle before venturing into the park. The U.S. National Military Cemetery is close to the Visitors Center.

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A sad but meaningful walk among those who gave all dots the landscape.

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It is a reminder that every state was involved in the Civil War when you see Iowa, Ohio, and Michigan on the tombstones.

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Markers like this, of the unidentified soldier outnumber those identified of the 3500 men buried here.

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Cannon balls and barrels mark this spot where once a huge tree sheltered General Grant.

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Positioned cannon are located and pointed in the direction of the battle. The battle ground covers an area of three miles and we drove from stop to stop.  There are many tombstones along the route that  indicate where the bodies fell. The Confederate bodies were buried in two mass graves.

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The visitors center has pictures of idealistic young men going off to stand for their country. The youngest soldier in this battle according to historians was 16. Most were aged 21 to 30. The youngest person in the battle was not a soldier.

10 year old Drummer

It is hard to believe this ten-year old boy served as a drummer and marched to war, most likely along with his father. Each regiment had a young drummer as part of the corp, most of them were 12 to 15 years old. Incomprehensible to me.

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Visiting the battlefield was meaningful after the film which explained the importance and the strategies both failed and successful of both sides. It re-enacts those people who witnessed, who wrote letters, who survived to tell the tale; and a sad tale of unimaginable carnage is told here. It also makes one remember the word unity that Lincoln spoke so eloquently about at the close of the war. Unfortunately, with his assassination, that unity did not come about and that same problem resonates to this day. History’s lessons are soon forgotten. If you travel along this major waterway, the Tennessee River, make Shiloh a place to stop and remember.

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From Mary’s desk:

Memorial Day, Wendy Jaillet and daughter Jaime marched 3 miles in the Essex Memorial Day Parade, near Ivoryton. Wendy is a girl scout trip leader. I bought a poppy, forgetting that they still do that. I hadn’t seen a vet selling poppies since moving to Murphys.
This county put their flags at half staff for a local man who recently died in Afghanistan.
I’m conflicted because I’m against wars as a way of solving problems because it causes so much pain and sacrifice. The cost is not only human carnage. Right now, the trillions spent on our current conflict could more productively be used to assist nation building and lower our national debt.
Remembering those who served and sacrificed? On this trip since January,  I’ve visited Fort Bowie in Arizona, The huge Pacific War Museum at Fredericksburg, Texas, Chalmette Battlefield, the Cabildo, Port Hudson and the LaFitte National Parks of Louisiana, covering the Revolutionary War of 1776, The War of 1812,  The Spanish American War and the Civil War. More Civil War battlefields in Gettysburg, PA, and Harpers Ferry in W.Virginia. War is a vivid culture of countries, men and politics like no other.
In short, Memorial Day reminds me of the service and sacrifice made by our armed services and many civilians as well, but it also reminds me of the killing machine going on right now. I despise that it is deemed  necessary. I sometimes think my friends believe people who are anti-war are unpatriotic. Not true. Patriotism is as much about keeping the peace as it means fighting for our country’s values. Defining those values is not a straight street, and I take it very personally.

My partner Jim Jaillet in 1961.

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