Our community club met recently at Pat and Bill Souders’ country home, which is a special blend of old and new. The new, modern house perched on a ridge of the farm provides a grand view of the surrounding acreage and the old house down the road where the Souders family had lived for years while their six children were growing up. A few old furnishings fill just enough places to let one know there are plenty of stories from the past that have moved into the new home with the people.
I’m a lot like their house; a mixture of old and new with meaningful ties to people and places. Our community club survives in today’s busy world because no doubt everyone who pays his $1 a year dues feels this special bond.
The Signal Community Club, like my Monday Club, is another one that may be close to 100 years old. My belonging to these steadfast type groups says a lot about who I am. I feel a deeply seated sense of place in Columbiana County, Ohio. Both my family and Mark’s have roots here that trace back for decades.
Decoration Day, what my mother and grandmother usually called Memorial Day, is a time when I think about these roots as my family makes the rounds to four, maybe five, cemeteries, pruning around the stones that mark the resting places of our ancestors who also lived most of their lives in this area.
Memorial Day came about in the post Civil War years of the late 1860s as a time to commemorate the soldiers who had given their lives. Although Veterans’ Day wasn’t officially named until 100 years later, it is the time I mark more profoundly for paying tribute to those who have fought for our country. My Memorial Day has always been my time to remember family gone before. Only a few of their graves are marked by American flags to show they served their country. Most are country people who loved the area as I do.
I searched for a verse that lifts up both types of patriot, the dedicated defender and the sentimental countryman. The following is an excerpt from Armistice by Charles Buxton Going.
That faith they hold.
The peace for which they battled was pure gold,
And in their splendid zeal they died unshaken.
Knowing such sacred beauty fills their sleep,
Shall we yet mourn, or wish they might awaken
To find the golden peace so far debased?
Should we not rather pray that they may keep
Their shining vision spotless, undefaced,
Until the world, repentant and redeemed,
Grow to the measure of the one they dreamed?
So let them rest.
They gave for us their dearest and their best;
They keep the holiest. Yet for the giving
Our fittest tribute is not grief and tears,
But the same ardent vision in our living
As that which shone, compelling, in their eyes
Uncowed by death and all his dreadful fears.
Then, when at last these glorious dreamers rise,
The world we keep for them might almost seem
The living substance of their lofty dream!
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