May 25, 2015 (by Jimmy) – This weekend is Memorial Day weekend. As a history buff, I like to go to places and learn about what happened there. Sir Winston Churchill was dead on when he said, “If you fail to learn from History, you are doomed to repeat it”. To me, Memorial Day is a day set aside for the learning. Not only learning about and remembering the people but the situations that caused the history. Good or bad, there is something you can take from every situation and apply it to today, a lessons learned. That applied to me in Corinth this weekend.
Angela and I made two stops. The first was at the Corinth Civil War Interpretive Center (free of charge and an excellent learning experience). Inside the center there is a 17-minute film that covers the aftermath of the battle at Shiloh that occurred about 15 miles to the north. Once the Rebels lost, they brought all their wounded and retreating soldiers to Corinth for rest and medical treatment. A town built to accommodate 1,500 people grew to over 75,000 virtually over night. The lack of water, the heat, and the lack of sanitary facilities all played a factor in the horror that was Corinth in those weeks. When they left Corinth for Shiloh, it was assumed it be a forgone conclusion that they would win the battle. This should teach us that we should be prepared for the unexpected results of life. If you lose your job (for whatever reason), are you prepared for the financial reality you will face until you get that next job? Are you insured? How are you set for retirement? These folks were not prepared for the aftermath if something unforeseen happened, you need to learn from this and not be unprepared.
The film talked about how the Union took over the town after the Rebels surrendered it after a few weeks. After the Union Troops moved in, many runaway slaves started showing up. The Union did not have a plan to deal with them and considered them contraband (like if they had found a cow or a box of ammunition), so they created a “Contraband Camp”. This was the next place I wanted to visit.
The Union considered them contraband, but they were people – people hungry to learn, hungry to grow their own food, hungry to help others. Teachers were brought in and books were distributed. One of the teachers said she had never seen so much progress in such a small period of time as she had when teaching these folks. The contraband camp (also free of charge and a nice place to reflect on the past) did not have houses built that looked like they did back then, or a fort, or any structure whatsoever. This park had statues of people doing ordinary things – things we take for granted, ironing, farming, reading.
Also this camp provided the Union Army with two regiments (about 2,000 soldiers) to assist with the Union effort. This camp was the first black community of the Civil War era and was used as a model to develop other black communities later in the war and after. What I find so appealing about this is that these people were called contraband., considered nothing more than found property, but provided the opportunity they asserted themselves and made something out of the situation in which they found themselves.
What I learn from this is don’t worry about the situation in which you currently find yourself. Look at the opportunities to improve, look at how you can help others, look at ways to make others feel special. I really liked this park.
So enjoy your Memorial Day. Do remember the troops (current and past), remember family and friends that may no longer be around. However, as you think about these folks and the situations of the past. also take the time to think about how their sacrifice, their guidance, their memory can help you to be a better person.
Until later… Later…