Stories From The Graveyards ~

I’ve always said that walking in the path of those who came before us is by far the best lesson travel can teach.  Standing on the stairs at the Chateau de Fontainebleau where Napoleon abdicated, or walking through George Washington’s Mt. Vernon home, or walking across a civil war battlefield, are all moments in time.  Moments in which we can choose to stop and consider the idea that we, as a nation, cannot move forward if we do not recognize how far we’ve come and how far we still have to go.  It’s what I love most about history.  And, it’s what I love most about travel.

Stories from the Graveyards

I love to spin a good story.  Whether we travel just down the road or across the ocean, I’m always looking for the story behind the experience.  When Viola Davis recently won her academy award, she told the audience to look for stories in the graveyards because that’s where you’ll find the stories of ordinary people who lived a life.  I found her speech especially moving because I likened her words to my love of walking in the path of those who came before us.

Over the course of a few recent days we’ve had the opportunity to learn two new lessons; moments in which history once again taught us how far we’ve come and how much we’ve yet to learn.  The first lesson was taught to us by six-year-old Glenn Worthington who in 1864 – along with his father’s slaves – hid in the basement and watched through the cracks of a boarded up window as a civil war battle raged before his eyes.  Take that in for a moment.  Imagine a six-year-old witnessing such a thing on his family’s farm and the lasting impact on his life.  As an adult he wrote the book, Fighting for Time: The Battle of Monocacy and he used his book to encourage Congress to establish a, “National Military Park at the Battlefield of Monocacy, Maryland.”  Monocacy National Battlefied  Glenn, had a story to tell.  

Built in 1851 – The Worthington Family Home

We’ve traversed this country four times and we’ve had many opportunities to hear the stories of ordinary families who were caught in the middle of civil war turbulence, literally in their front yards.  Stories such as that of Matilda Lotz and her family who hid in a neighbor’s basement while the civil war battle of Franklin raged around them.  These are stories from the graveyards, sacrifices made by so many.

Loving -vs- Virginia

The second lesson came in the form of watching a movie titled, Loving. It is the story of Mildred and Richard Loving, an interracial couple who were married in Washington, DC because in 1958 it was illegal for them to marry in their home state of Virginia.  As the story began to unfold, we were reminded – having just traveled to the Monocacy Battlefield days before – of the sacrifices made by so many who fought so valiantly for justice and yet, ninety-four years after six-year-old Glenn Worthington watched a civil war battle on his family farm, two people who deeply loved each other could not marry.  Two people who were literally rousted out of their bed in the middle of the night and hauled off to jail simply because of the color of their skin.  The judge sentenced them to one year in jail (suspended) and told them to leave the state of Virginia for 25 years.

We only knew of the Loving’s story through a fairly recent news report covering the 50th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s 1967 landmark decision which made it legal for interracial couples to marry in every state in America.  The court’s decision came about because of these two ordinary people, Richard and Mildred, who loved each other and who simply wanted to raise their children in their home state.  It is an extraordinary story.

As we watched the story, which was told purposely and beautifully, it was hard for us not to think again of those who have walked before us and how much, as a nation, we still have to learn.  It seems as if history keeps repeating itself, doesn’t it?  I don’t think there is a more relevant time to pay attention to stories from the graveyards.  These are the people who came before us and whose stories we should hold onto as we find our way through yet another turbulent time in our country.  Hopefully, lessons will be learned.

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12 Responses to Stories From The Graveyards ~

  • Great post, I can’t wait to watch Loving, it looks like an amazing and important movie.

  • A friend of mine recently told me of a grave marker she had seen in a cemetery in San Jose. It listed the women’s name and then said. “Paid in full.” Doesn’t that get your story brain going? It did mine.

  • Thanks for sharing these extraordinary stories Patti. We just finished watching the BBC series Roots, which taught us a lot and made us reflect on a lot of the issues you mention. When we return to the USA we’re keen to explore some of this history in more depth, as you have.
    Amy recently posted…Making a Digital Nomad LivingMy Profile

  • *Loving* is on our must-see list Patti, especially now that I’ve watched your video. A major part of our fascination with travel is how history interweaves itself through a place and we find ourselves trying to picture us living alternate lives in various locations and time periods. It’s a great way to try to understand how things that start out as seemingly small events or one injustice piled upon another can morph into huge political movements and major new laws. Perhaps one of my major frustrations (there are so many ) with our new administration is that we have people in charge of monumentally important programs who have no understanding of the history that has led to these protective safeguards. And worse yet, we have lawmakers and a government who seem to be completely unable to place themselves in the shoes of someone less fortunate and try to imagine the obstacles that need to be overcome. As you’ve pointed out, we need to listen to those stories, see what we can learn and practice the fine art of empathy.
    Anita @ No Particular Place To Go recently posted…Looking For America: Thoughts on our Travels and Black History MonthMy Profile

  • We need more people to speak out and continue to fight for minority’s rights, nothing can be taken for granted. Recent developments show that we still have a long way to go to feel that what has been accomplished by brave people such as the above heroes does not go to waste and is buried in the past. Good on you Patti for continuing to highlight these issues and make us remember and think.

    • Thank you, Gilda. Sadly, the trend to forget how far we’ve come and how much more we still have to learn is seemingly world wide.

  • This post was really interesting, not just because I now know more about the movie, “Loving”, but because you reminded me that books can sometimes provide much more context to a place than just reading “history” books. Interesting section about Glenn Worthington and his book. Now I will definitely watch “Loving”
    Janice Chung recently posted…Marie Antoinette’s Petit Trianon And HamletMy Profile

    • Thank you, Janice. History books give us the facts, biographies and memoirs fill in the gaps, they tell the story behind the history. And, travel allows us to experience the history. I hope you enjoy, “Loving.”

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We are Patti and Abi. We retired early to live a simpler life, travel the world and hopefully, inspire others to redefine retirement.

 

2 years, 290 days ago!

 

 

 

 

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