My writing has taken me into a new series called, The Blue Ridge Mountains. It is a collection of books that celebrate the life and work of the people who live in and around the beautiful Blue Ridge Parkway of Virginia and North Carolina. In researching my stories of the books, it has been my privilege to interview a number of people whose roots go back generations. Many small, family grave plots can be seen in the hills. Some have a small flag or stone that reads that the person was a Civil War member of the Confederacy dating back into the 1800’s. They are proud of their history and do not think of their confederate flag as a symbol of racism or bigotry, but of the bravery of the men who fought against those who had invaded their land and homes.
Hearing their stories has brought to mind how tied the people are to their mountains and their history. The “Yankee” troops that marched through these valleys and hills during the Civil War, marched on afterward to return to their northern states.
The people of the South pulled themselves up to endure rebuilding and hardship, becoming a strong part of “one nation under God”. Slavery was no more. The long road to equality began far after the ships arrived with its human cargo from Africa.
As an retired educator, I know the emphasis that I put on history in the classroom, but it has almost become, in recent years, politically incorrect to talk about slavery…even the Emancipation Proclamation which freed them. It appears that the climate of the country is to bury our heads about the past. Remembering it no more must be the road to the future. I think that this way of thinking is wrong for we should learn from our past. In all fairness, the nation must have believed that they had passed racial tensions and elected an African American President twice to follow in the footsteps of Presidents like Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson. When we see violence in our streets and children who can’t walk to school in our large cities without the fear of being shot, one wonders if we have learned anything from the strife of the past.
We have a fabric in America that is woven from many different threads and backgrounds. Most school children today probably do not know that there are descendants of Thomas Jefferson, the writer of the Declaration of Independence, who meet each year to celebrate who they are and to tell their stories. Many are highly educated because education was placed as a priority. (See video at end)
Who exactly was Thomas Jefferson? He certainly was a man of great contradictions. A graduate in law from the College of William and Mary, he at times defended slaves seeking freedom, but owned a large number of slaves himself. He represented Virginia in the Continental Congress…drafting the law for religious freedom…served as a governor and became the U.S. Minister to France…served as Secretary of State under President George Washington. He penned “all men are created equal.” and had a strong belief in states rights.
Jefferson also became the 3rd President of the United States. There were many issues to deal with, as there are today, for this nation. Jefferson’s were concerning trade and pirates. He doubled the size of the country with the Louisiana Purchase. Not only was there controversy with slavery, but he began the removal of Indian tribes to the newly organized Louisiana Territory….but signed the Act Prohibiting Importation of Slaves. (Yes, a difficult, but talented man to understand in the midst of a growing, new nation. ) Jefferson’s talents were in mathematics, surveying, horticulture and mechanics.
He was a Christian well versed in linguistics and spoke several languages.”Baptized in his youth, Jefferson became a governing member of his local Episcopal Church in Charlottesville, VA. Influenced by Deist authors during his college years Jefferson abandoned “orthodox” Christianity. In 1803 he asserted, ‘I am Christian, in the only sense in which Jesus wished any one to be.’ Jefferson later defined being a Christian as one who followed the simple teachings of Jesus.”
He was the founder of the University of Virginia after leaving public office.
(Story behind picture of Lucy Cottrell was the daughter of Dorothea (Dolly) Cottrell, a house servant at Monticello who, after 1826, became the property of George Blaetterman, a professor at the University of Virginia. About 1850 Dolly and Lucy Cottrell went to Maysville, Kentucky, with the professor’s widow, who freed them five years later. In this daguerreotype Lucy Cottrell is holding Charlotte, daughter of Blaetterman’s foster son.)
Jefferson must have taken it literally that all of his hundreds of slaves belonged to him to do with as he liked. After the death of his wife in 1782, he had a relationship with Sally Hemings and fathered at least one of her children. This may have been the beginning of those who now have Jefferson as part of their heritage. Nevertheless, despite the events in his life that makes him controversial, he is consistently ranked as one of the countries “Greatest Presidents”. Presidents are often making decisions to foster their own legacy. History will play out whether the time in office points to greatness or the lack thereof.
Video. Turn on sound and enlarge for best viewing.
The one National Holiday in the U.S.A that transcends all religious faiths…and simply says “Give Thanks” is being pulled away by the greed of America. That holiday is Thanksgiving. Blame it on the economy if one wants to…getting good buys etc…but there probably is no excuse. Those who work for the stores that open on Thanksgiving Day can hardly say that they won’t show up for work because they value family and tradition over their needed paycheck. Some have tried and have been fired. (as in the Pizza Hut manager)
Is Black Friday shopping not enough that a new word is being introduced for shopping on Thanksgiving as “Grey Thursday”? ( It even has a sad and dismal sound to the name.) Just how sad may be told by the story below multiplied by thousands.
The national news carried a story of a woman who had taken her daughter on Thanksgiving Day to a store….waited for hours to be one of the first in line…and finally fed a “Thanksgiving?” lunch to her little girl in the car. Her comment to the reporter was “I am doing it for her.” Doing what? At her young age, she is learning that shopping is more important than anything on our special day of Thanks here in America. Sad, abusive, crazy, ridiculous, unthinking….could be a few words to describe this form of parenting.
I can remember years when I was a single parent, with little income as a teacher, going to garage sales, starting back around Halloween, and finding the best Christmas gifts to wrap and put under the tree for my three children to have on Christmas morning.( Of course, Grandparents made up for some nice things as well.) The children always seemed happy and appreciative with their gifts. We know that the Holy Scriptures tell us in Proverbs 22:6 ” Direct your children onto the right path,and when they are older, they will not leave it.” This is true for our 2013 Thanksgiving when 10 happy people held hands , giving a word of thankfulness, and eating together around a table, that I can now afford, and sharing this time together with family and friends. Handing down tradition takes time and years that are not to be wasted fighting crowds and materialism with children…or for them.
Taryn Luna, of the Boston Globe, wrote “More frequently, anti-Thanksgiving-shopping advocates are making their views known through social media networks. Jordana Bishop of Raynham started a Facebook group called “Boycott Shopping on Thanksgiving Day.” The group’s page plays off Santa’s “naughty or nice” list by assigning retailers to one of the two categories based on whether they plan to be open or shut. Bishop said people should realize that when they patronize stores early, it means workers stocking shelves and manning registers are losing out….”
What is all this doing to employees? Ellen Galinsky also writes, “As a society, we’ve agreed that most of America’s workforce should have key holidays — in this case just one day — to be with family and friends, or just to take a breather from work. Holidays are also up there with vacation days as critical to keeping employees healthy and productive, more so than ever. Our research at the Families and Work Institute shows that the nation’s workforce is more stressed than ever, increasing significantly in recent years. Nearly one-third (32%) of employees report that their work has a primarily negative impact on their lives off the job by draining energy, so they don’t have enough left over for their personal and family life. Our research also shows that those who take vacations and holidays return to work more energized and productive…”
We ask the question…What decision will Americans make to save Thanksgiving now and for future generations? It is a decision…and a big one. Our culture and our society hangs on the decision each family member makes. We are a nation worried about violence, mental illness, terrorism…and how we react to these things may be as simple as our thankfulness, values and instead of greed….appreciation for all the things we are blessed with in this country.
Again, we decide. Should we make a list of places to avoid and “shop elsewhere”? Call it a boycott, if one wants to do so. It is up to us…the people…
Here is a helpful list of stores to consider when shopping for your holiday gifts:
Major retailers that did not open on this Thanksgiving 2013, but encouraged employees to be with family, include:
- Burlington Coat Factory
- Barnes & Noble
- Home Depot
- Radio Shack
- Sam’s Club
- TJ Maxx
Stores that DID stay open on Thanksgiving…in case you want to “boycott”.
(compiled by Hayley Peterson | Business Insider ) Kmart, Big Lots, Ace Hardware, Family Dollar, Old Navy, Michaels, Toys R Us, Walmart, Best Buy, Macy’s Kohl’s, JC Penny, Sears, Belks, Office Max, Staples, Target, Dick’s sporting Goods.
(Some even stayed open 40+ hours starting on Thanksgiving) Overnight Scheduled stores: Belk, Best Buy, Costco, Dick’s Sporting Goods, GameStop, JC Penny, Kmart, Kohl’s, Macy’s, Old Navy, Office Max, Sears, Target, Toys Are Us, Walmart
There were some people who would have loved to be at a family dinner table on Thanksgiving. They would also be thankful just to be alive….our men and women in Afghanistan and around the world. A special meal is traditionally made for them where they are…and in some cases the officers serve the enlisted. Nothing…nothing would take the place of being with family…not even a mall.