Reflections

Memorial Day Began As Southern Tradition

  Hello everyone, hope you’re having a good week. My plans are to attend the Memorial Day Ceremony in Water Valley on Monday.

  Today (Sunday) I attended a concert in Luxora, Arkansas, presented by my old friend, Tommy Fairchild’s quartet, “Spoken 4”. They have only been together as a group since January, but since they have all sung professionally before, they did a great job.     

    Tommy has retired twice after being with the Oak Ridge Boys and the Blackwood Brothers, but he just couldn’t stand being retired. He put this group together. They are all young men, with two of them being from Mississippi originally. I had known the bass singer, Cecil Stringer, before, but I had never had the pleasure of meeting the others. They sing traditional Southern Gospel and Tommy tells me that it is making a come back.

  I mentioned in last week’s column that I would include some things that I didn’t mention in the Casey Jones Story. The fireman that I mentioned, who was trying to replace the broken air hose, was Ed Kennedy, who lived at the corner of North Main and Market for many years.

    Nannie Badley sold him country churned butter as far back as I can remember. He was one of the old breed of engineers. The engineer he was with that night was Loring Rogers, another old time engineer. My dad at one time worked with all of them. He wasn’t inclined to talk much about his work, but I wish I had listened more to the stories he did tell.

  Memorial Day was originally Decoration Day and started when ladies would decorate the graves of the Civil War dead. It ultimately became a national holiday. There is a row of unknown federal soldiers’ graves in Oak Hill. Think about the families of these men who never knew what became of them.

    I had four great-grandparents in the War between the States, including Papa Badley’s father, and Papa’s younger brother, Will Badley, who was in the Spanish-American War. Dad and his brothers, Joe and Porter, were in World War I, as well as Mother’s brother, Charles Badley.

    I had numerous cousins in World War II and my cousin, Melvin Ford, and I were in the Korean War. I hope people took the time to remember what the day is all about and not treat it as just another holiday. When you read the names on the monument in the park, just remember that those young men never got to marry and see their children and grandchildren grow up or see all the wonderful things we enjoy because of their sacrifice.

  I hope that the few World War II vets in Water Valley are able to attend, as I have been privileged to know most of them.

  Since the railroad was such a vital part of Water Valley’s history, I wish that some way could be found to recognize them in the museum, maybe with pictures on the wall or something. They were just like the young service men doing a job and many losing their lives in the process.

  It had been a long time since I had heard from long-time reader, Gloria Gardner, but she did write me and said she was still in the process of moving to a new residence after the fire that destroyed her place. She is 80 years old and still is optimistic about her future in the face of her adversity. Way to go, Gloria, and keep writing. She comes from a generation of survivors.

  Let me hear from you who haven’t been in touch for a long time. My email address is: charlescooper3616@sbcglobal.net or write me at P. O. Box 613189, Memphis, TN 38101, and have a great week.

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