I'm Glad I'm Not You, Cus Then I Wouldn't Be Me

Memorial Day Thought

By: ricderr, 8:48 PM GMT on May 24, 2009

Yesterday I drove west to Austin to measure houses and as I was driving I was listening to NPR. One of their morning stories was about the history of Memorial Day and the different versions of its beginning. The reporter mentioned one about a group of freed slaves who had removed the bodies of Union war prisoners from shallow unmarked graves. They worked for two weeks properly burying these soldiers as their sacrifice deserved and 10,000 gathered on May 1st to give them a proper burial. I wasn't sure if the story was true or not and in looking it up I founf this article today. (See Below)

The story got me to thinking about how easy it is for us as we enjoy a three day weekend filled with racing, barbeques and gatherings to take a few minutes and reflect on the price some have paid for our great nation and our freedom. This though, for me, that is just not enough. I've decided I will try to find the family of someone recently fallen and write them a letter with a little something in it explaining my gratitude for their service.

The First Memorial Day
Former slaves began American tradition 144 years ago in Charleston
By Brian Hicks (Contact)
The Post and Courier
Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Library of Congress

This April 1865 photo shows the graves of Union soldiers who died at the Race Course prison camp in Charleston, which would later become Hampton Park. On May 1 of that year, former slaves gave the fallen a daylong funeral.

Melissa Haneline
The Post and Courier

An obelisk, erected by L. T. 'Eliza' Potter, stands in Beaufort National Cemetery. It reads, 'IMMORTALITY TO HUNDREDS OF THE DEFENDERS OF AMERICAN LIBERTY AGAINST THE GREAT REBELLION.'
Memorial Day, 1865
Read The Martyrs of the Race Course, an account of Memorial Day events from 1865 as reported in the Daily Courier.
Charleston was in ruins.

The peninsula was nearly deserted, the fine houses empty, the streets littered with the debris of fighting and the ash of fires that had burned out weeks before. The Southern gentility was long gone, their cause lost.

In the weeks after the Civil War ended, it was, some said, "a city of the dead."

On a Monday morning that spring, nearly 10,000 former slaves marched onto the grounds of the old Washington Race Course, where wealthy Charleston planters and socialites had gathered in old times. During the final year of the war, the track had been turned into a prison camp. Hundreds of Union soldiers died there.

For two weeks in April, former slaves had worked to bury the soldiers. Now they would give them a proper funeral.

The procession began at 9 a.m. as 2,800 black school children marched by their graves, softly singing "John Brown's Body."

Soon, their voices would give way to the sermons of preachers, then prayer and — later — picnics. It was May 1, 1865, but they called it Decoration Day.

On that day, former Charleston slaves started a tradition that would come to be known as Memorial Day.

History discovered

For years, the ceremony was largely forgotten.

It had been mentioned in some history books, including Robert Rosen's "Confederate Charleston," but the story gained national attention when David W. Blight, a professor of American history at Yale, took interest. He discovered a mention of the first Decoration Day in the uncataloged writings of a Union soldier at a Harvard University library.

He contacted the Avery Research Center in Charleston, which helped him find the first newspaper account of the event. An article about the "Martyrs of the Race Course" had appeared in the Charleston Daily Courier the day after the ceremony. Blight was intrigued and did more research. He published an account of the day in his book, "Race and Reunion." Soon he gave lectures on the event around the country.

"What's interesting to me is how the memory of this got lost," Blight said. "It is, in effect, the first Memorial Day and it was primarily led by former slaves in Charleston."

While talking about the Decoration Day event on National Public Radio, Blight caught the attention of Judith Hines, a member of the Charleston Horticultural Society. She was amazed to hear a story about her hometown that she did not know.

"I grew up in Charleston and I never learned about the Union prison camp," Hines said. "These former slaves decided the people who died for their emancipation should be honored."

Hines eventually wrote a history of Hampton Park — the site of the former Race Course — as part of the society's "Layers of the Landscape" series, and included the story. Since then, she has advocated public recognition of the event.

It is a story, she said, that needs to be told.

Songs for the martyrs

The cemetery had been built on the grounds of the Race Course by two dozen men, groups that identified themselves as the "Friends of the Martyrs" and the "Patriotic Association of Colored Men."

On the track's infield, they built a 10-foot fence and dug 257 graves. Most of the soldiers who died at the Race Course prison had been malnourished or exposed to the elements too long to survive. They had been buried together in shallow graves, without coffins, behind the judge's stand.

The efforts to bury them were coordinated by freed slaves and missionaries and teachers working with the freedmen's relief associations, primarily a Scot James Redpath. They did all the work in 10 days, and called these dead soldiers "The Martyrs of the Race Course."

The exercise on May 1, the Charleston Daily Courier reported, began with the reading of a Psalm. The crowd sang a hymn, then prayed. Everyone in the procession carried a bouquet of flowers.

The children strew flowers on the graves as they walked past. After "John Brown's Body," they sang "The Star Spangled Banner," "America" and "Rally Round the Flag." By the end, the graves looked like a massive mound of rose petals.

These former slaves were joined by several Union regiments, including the 104th and 35th "colored regiments," as well as the famous 54th Massachusetts. These companies marched around the graves in solemn salute.

After the picnic, the crowd drifted away at dusk. They had spent the entire day at the new cemetery.



By: ricderr, 3:35 PM GMT on May 22, 2009

OK a quick and easy one for a Friday. I'm sure this type of campaign happens all over the country, as I know at home in Stuart Fl. they do it all the time, but Houston is having a two week "Click it or Ticket" campaing where law enforcement is looking for, pulling over and ticketing people that don't buckle up.

Should you be required to wear a seatbelt?



By: ricderr, 1:11 PM GMT on May 21, 2009

OK, I’ve got a question in here, I just don't know if I will get to it.

I've got a few confessions to make as I'm not sure if people are clear on a few things.

I truly like MLC, GS, HG and many others. The fact that we disagree on so many things politically and on world views doesn't change that at all. I'd like nothing better than to sit down one night face to face and talk about politics and life in general. I may disagree with people’s views but I respect them as I think we all share a love for our country. To give an example, Mobal has a good blog about the Chrysler dealership in Vero Beach. I enjoyed reading the comments and concern many bloggers felt towards the owners of these businesses and their employees. If you read some other blog sites, the lack of compassion showed on these others to me is quite disturbing. See, there's good people on these blogs. I just disagree on the view that it's the present’s administrations fault as I feel the bailout money made the bankruptcy less severe and kept far more people employed. If I want to place blame it falls on our bankruptcy laws that made the closing possible and with the fat cats in their comfortable corporate offices who still get their bonuses while the people down the line suffer. So while we may disagree on the details, in my opinion the important part, which is compassion for our fellow man we agree on.

When it comes to my political views, I think it was LowerCal or SPN that once posted a survey that when you answered the questions it plotted the answers to a chart that showed if your beliefs were conservative or liberal of center. I landed just past the midpoint on the side of conservative and I truly feel this is correct towards my views.

I am a republican and I am a Progressive Republican. I don't think I have to explain that I am not happy with my party as I make that crystal clear on a daily basis. I firmly believe that our government works best when both parties have an equal say in our government as I feel it was designed that through negotiations and the chance for all sides to be heard the will of the people would be carried out. If anyone caught the interview with Rush Limbaugh on Fox last night, while I found much of it funny and true to form for Rush, his description of the many fractions of the Republican Party was spot on.

I am a born again Christian, however I feel my faith is a very private matter and although I grew up in a Baptist home and attended a Baptist college, With that said though, I am a firm believer that religion and true faith do not necessarily walk hand in hand. I feel that one day when we walk the streets of heaven we'll be surprised at who the people are that are walking with us. I also feel very strongly that religion and politics should never mix. I believe our forefathers knew of this danger and went to pains to make sure they separated this in the writing of the constitution. Please notice that I didn't say faith and politics don't mix, I said religion as I feel my faith is what draws me to the center on my political views. Now I do not believe socialism works for the very reason of the nature of man, but I do believe that heaven will be socialism in its perfect form. The Garden of Eden, the relationship between God and believers, the teachings of the bible and even the early church are socialistic. To say every man for himself as is evidenced in an unchecked capitalistic system goes against my beliefs.

I do feel very badly for those that are suffering in the economic conditions today. Last night Becky told me of two families we are friends with, one who is losing their rental house to foreclosure and another that lost their home, cars and are now divorcing. Becky, I and our family are very fortunate that throughout these times we're prospering. I became the sales manager of Houston yesterday even though I will be attending adjuster school next month as I feel in the long term that will bring me closer to home. See I love many aspects of Texas, I hate the big city of Houston as much as I'm grateful for the opportunity it has given me, but my heart belongs in PSL in a little house with a wife, three kids and a menagerie of animals.

So, I love to argue politics, I love to point out inconsistencies and I love to learn others points of views. Right now it's against the right but as I believe the pendulum will swing far left I'm sure I'll be at odds with other groups at some point down the road, but I'll still hold the belief I'm arguing with good people and that leads to the QOD:

strong>What would someone be surprised to know about you?



By: ricderr, 2:28 PM GMT on May 19, 2009

When the world around you is crashing...

When everything you touch feels like jagged glass...

When even though logic tells you there's plenty of positives you can't see past the negative...

When you can feel insanity is right around the corner...

Who do you turn to?


Friday's Question of the Day

By: ricderr, 9:09 PM GMT on May 14, 2009

Best two words I know are "I'm Home." I flew in late this morning and then had lunch with Becky. After that I picked up Ky early from school because he's been having some missing dad issues and I thought the extra hour with dad would be good for both of us. Next I got the 2 youngest signed up for enviromental studies camp and then picked up Cassie Lou. Then I stopped at the store to grab some things for dinner and came home and Thee Man was here and I started dinner marinating and prepped and now it's time to have daddy wars in the pool. But the nicest thing was popping on this computer and seeing a picture of me, yes, all my bald ugliness as the screen saver. Yep, love is missing the ones you love when away and that leads to the QOD:

Finish the sentence:

Love is____________________________________


Wednesday's Question of the Day

By: ricderr, 2:54 PM GMT on May 13, 2009

Well, seeing that everyone is singing let me add the mix;

Oh happy day, (oh happy day )
Oh happy day, (oh happy day )
I'm going home (Ric's going home)
I'm going home (Ric's going home)
Tomorrow until Tuesday
Oh happy day,
Oh happy day.

Time to see momma and the kids and I get to see Cassie's end of year band concert. She's so happy because she is first clarinet. Yep, proud daddy I be.

So today is positive thinking Wednesday. I know, there's plenty of doom and gloom out there and even here by my blogging friends, but I have to ask are things really as bad as the are presented. Don't get me wrong, the economy is in the crapper, more people are jobless than since the economic downturn of the '80's and the stock market dove deep from it high mark.

Darn, that didn't sound so positive but there are positive signs showing that we're beginning to flatten out and after that we will be turning the corner and slowly but surely we'll be onward and upward. Take a look at some of the signs.

The stock market is working on a two month rally. The market is an early indicator of the economy and usually goes positive six to nine months before the economy does.

Retailers are raising profit forecasts. The economists had forecast an annual decline in sales of .05 percent this year. The first quarter instead saw an increase in sales of .02 percent and early trends for the second quarter show sales are flat.

The housing market is fairing better than expected. I know, when you say three years ago my house was worth twice what it is worth now, but honestly, did you buy your house as a short term investment? Most of us bought our homes for stability and most of us have homes that are worth more than when we first bought them and we have accrued equity. Sunday, I was on the phone with friends whom I call my adopted parents this past Sunday. They just put their house on the market after purchasing a new home and ma was telling me how it was worth about 300,000 less than a few years earlier. Now that sounds bad but ma went on to further explain that the home they are buying also declined the same percentage and that is what made it possible for them to buy it as because their income didn't drop the difference between their present house and the new house, they were now able to qualify for the new loan.

Consumer confidence for the future is up. People are saying times are tough now, but they believe they will get better and as consumer confidence goes so does the economy.

Now, let's look at ourselves personally. Are we better now than a year ago? Gas is about 2 bucks a gallon less. Milk is a dollar a gallon less. I don't know about you but our family went on a cost cutting program and as a result we have less debt and more in savings than we had a year ago.

So, I ask you to take a look at your own situation and your own economy and ask am I better than a year ago? Take a look around at your friends and neighbors, are they doing better or even the same? And then I ask you to take the next step, put off the doom and gloom and then even take one step further and offer to help in whatever way you can those that aren't doing better.

Sorry, you'll have to make up your own question as I'm going to stop and smell the roses.



By: ricderr, 3:00 PM GMT on May 08, 2009

So here I sit, writing a long blog and when I go to hit the post button it dawns on me that it's Mother's Day this Sunday and that leads to the QOD:

What is the best memory of you and your mom?



By: ricderr, 3:45 PM GMT on May 06, 2009

I just finished cleaning the bathroom in the office. More about that in a moment.

I forgot to turn on the radio when I came into the office this morning and so it gave me time to reflect. Here in Houston I have the option of scheduling any one of three crews to do our work. I've set up a ranking order of how I schedule these crews, but when it comes to roofs I've personally sold I will only use one. It might mean a delay of a few days for my jobs, but the crew’s workmanship and detail makes it well worth it. These aren't just guys that work for us, they are my friends.

Now, this crew is entirely made up of Mexicans, all legal just in case my right wing blog friends might inquire and their cultural upbringing is vastly different than mine. I am never addressed as Ric, instead as Project Mgr. I am Mr. Ric. I tried for months to lose the moniker and failed. Now, when joking around me am called "Wetto" (white) and I gladly accept the nickname. However, since I have the Mr. title I feel I must reciprocate and call them Mr. or in the case of their boss, Mrs. Griselda. Funny, but the moniker bothers them as much as me.

I did though this week make a mistake. Now it was unwittingly but a mistake all the same. See, they've had a lot of unexpected expenses in the last few weeks and so money has been tight. I offered them to stay at our company apartment this week seeing I am the only one in residence and in doing so I hurt their pride. After telling me know, Mrs. Griselda summed it up best by saying, "Mr. Rick can we work Saturday too." These people don't want a handout they want to earn their way by the sweat of their brows.

So, back to bathroom cleaning. I am earning more than I ever have in m lifetime and I have a few titles with Lonestar and they are bantering a new title, one that carries with it quite a bit of prestige, yet it doesn't bother me to be the one cleaning the toilet. However, I am not without my foolish pride, regardless of how hard times may get you will never catch me drinking Kool-Aid. They may come up with the greatest flavor known to man, but due to my upbringing it won't pass by these lips and that leads to the QOD:

What is the one thing that pride won't allow you to do for any reason?



By: ricderr, 6:22 PM GMT on May 03, 2009

My Father's Mansion Lyrics

My father's mansion's many rooms
Have room for all of His children
As long as we do share His love
And see that all are free.

And see that all are free to grow
And see that all are free to know
And free to open or to close
The door of their own room.

What is a room without a door
Which sometimes locks or stands ajar?
What is a room without a wall
To keep out sight and sound from all?

And dwellers in each room should have
The right to choose their own design
And color schemes to suit their own
Though differing from mine.

Yes and each door has its own design
To suit the owners state of mind
And those who'd want them all the same
Don't understand - the human game.

May father's mansion's many rooms
Have room for all of His children
If we do but share in His love
And see that all are free.

The choice is ours to share this earth
With all its many joys abound
Or to continue as we have
And burn God's mansion down.

I was in Austin yesterday measuring houses and as I drove the radio was tuned to NPR and I was listening to their folk singer show and it was a tribute to Pete Seeger. I heard the above song and thought it was fitting on so many levels.

During this mornings drive back to Houston I was still listening to NPR and focused on a story they did about the news media and Obama's first 100 days. As I listened what struck me more than their commentary was the thought of how large the news community has grown in the last decade or so. With the growth of the internet, you can spend 24/7 reading up on the minutia of current events. There are now numerous 24/7 news channels on the television and so I have to wonder does the media drive the news or does the story itself? I think about the devoted news time and stories about the new flu virus. As of May 3rd there have been 226 confirmed cases with one fatality and that fatality was a Mexican infant that had been brought to the states for treatment. No, I'm not saying that the precautions that have been enacted are overblown but I sure do think the news coverage has been. I've heard stories of panic. I read an article predicting that as many as ten million could perish from this epidemic and over a billion could be infected. I don't think it's a conspiracy where news agencies are trying to take over the world, but I do think that commitments to advertisers and investors does affect not only what we hear but the tone and content and to the point that it's not truly news that is being reported but instead editorials and that leads to the QOD:

Where do you go to get your news?


The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.

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