From rebels to rainbows

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AGMA loves the Ken Burns documentary, “The Civil War”. Originally broadcast in 1990, it was digitally restored to high definition for it’s 25th anniversary in 2015.

PBS is airing it again.

For the 14 people in the US who haven’t seen it and my friends in other countries, the series is nine 1 hour episodes that documents through still pictures and historian comments, America’s horrific Civil War (1861-1865) that changed the course of the nation and lead to the end of slavery.

At least “officially”.

AGMA was watching episode 1 a few days ago and a quote from Abraham LIncoln startled me out of my Facebook stupor.

You know, you’re allegedly watching something on TV, but you’re also surfing FB to see which member of the Bloated Pumpkin’s family or inner circle committed treason today. The standard stuff.

So you’re sort of watching the show on TV, but sort of not.

Well, this quote snapped AGMA back to the TV.

In a letter to Joshua Speed (who?) in 1855, Abraham LIncoln wrote:

“As a nation, we began by declaring that “all men are created equal.” We now practically read it “all men are created equal, except negroes” When the Know-Nothings get control, it will read “all men are created equal, except negroes, and foreigners, and Catholics.” When it comes to this I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretense of loving liberty — to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure, and without the base alloy of hypocrisy.”

Sound familiar? Just replace Catholics with “any other religion but bat-sh*t crazy evangelical pseudo-Christians” and it’s a match.

And I’m pretty sure we all know who the Know-Nothings are…

AGMA’s a stranger in a strange land.

I’m a Yankee living in the South.

Raised in southwestern Pennsylvania, Civil War history was rich in my family. The Union side that is. My paternal grandfather’s family all hailed from Mercersburg, a little town in south central PA. My dad’s grandfather was a Union Civil War veteran who fought at the battles of Mercersburg and Gettysburg.

As an adult, I lived in Cincinnati, Ohio for 30 years. Ohio was part of the Union.

For those who have no idea exactly where Cincinnati is on a map, it’s in the far southwestern part of Ohio, directly on the Ohio River. Kentucky, part of the Confederacy, is across the river.

That made for some interesting, complicated family and business relationships in the 1860’s.

Because of it’s proximity to the Confederacy, Cincinnati became a major stop on the Underground Railroad, which helped slaves escape to become free people in the North.

The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati is a excellent museum dedicated to not only documenting the history of the Underground Railroad, but “it serves to inspire modern abolition through connecting the lessons of the Underground Railroad with today’s freedom fighters.  The center is also a convener of dialogue on freedom and human rights.”

Then in 2006, AGMA moved to Georgia.

To some folks here in the South, the Civil War is still going on.

A short drive OTP makes that evident.

Side note: Atlanta is divided by the circle highway around it. You are either ITP (inside the perimeter) or OTP (outside the perimeter). ITP tends to lean more blue; OTP more red.

AGMA, of course, lives ITP.

Stone Mountain Park is a beautiful Georgia State Park about 15 miles outside of Atlanta. It was the site of the tennis, archery and track cycling events in the 1996 Olympics. It has a beautiful lake, camp ground, golf course, hiking and biking trails, picnic grounds, and wonderful special events throughout the year.

It’s also the site of the largest piece of exposed granite in the world.

Stone Mountain – get it?

And on that large granite outcrop is carved, 76 feet tall and 158 feet wide, the figures of Confederacy President Jefferson Davis and Confederate Generals Robert E Lee and Stonewall Jackson on their horses.

Ride ‘em rebels!

The official address of the Park is 1000 Robert E. Lee Blvd. And the museum in the park that educates visitors and school groups about the geology, ecology and history of the park is in Confederate Hall.

AGMA wonders if they tell the school kids that the land around Stone Mountain, was the site of the rebirth of the KKK in 1915? Or if the docent explains the history behind the different versions of the Confederate flag?. That all still fly on Flag Terrace.

Are you starting to get the picture?

The War ain’t over folks. General William Tecumseh Sherman’s destruction of Atlanta and his devastating (for the Confederacy and Georgia) march to the coast might have as well happened only a few years ago.

I mean, we all saw Gone With The Wind right? It was awful. But at least Tara was saved…

Which brings me to why AGMA loves Atlanta.

During the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950‘s and 60’s, Altanta was spared most of the violence that occurred in other southern cities. A combination of progressive policies along with being the center of several major Civil Rights organizations, Atlanta was dubbed “The City too Busy to Hate”.

And it still is.

Although not perfect by any means, Atlanta is pretty chill. Mostly ITP, but some OTP too…

It’s a welcoming and very diverse city.

We are home to the Martin Luther King National Historical site, the Carter Center (gotta love Jimmy!), The National Center for Civil and Human Rights, and one of the best Pride parades in the country.

Have you seen our permanent rainbow crosswalks?

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Hubs and I went to breakfast at HIghland Bakery in the city the other day. (OMG they have the BEST cinnamon rolls!) The staff and customers were themselves a rainbow of diversity and, you know, it wasn’t a big deal. To anyone. People were kind and courteous to each other independent of their color, religion or sexual preferences.

Kinda the way Abe envisioned it all working.

And I was overwhelmed with a feeling of gratitude toward my newly adopted home.

AGMA initially didn’t like living here. Too many memories left behind. And while I still long for my home of 30 years in Cincinnati from time to time, I recognize that Atlanta has made me into the woman I am today. A far different woman than I was in 2006 when I moved here. Stronger, more confident, more open, more engaged.

And AGMA crazy. Of course…

So let’s not let the Know-Nothings have the last word. #Resist

Abraham Lincoln. Very smart man.

Oh, I Think I’ve Learned That Lesson…

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Sitting in my favorite coffee shop on Tuesday “crafting” my last blog post, I watched as beautiful white snowflakes started lightly falling.  Delightful!  They started to come down harder.  Living the southern part of the US, I thought I’d better get my fanny pack home before the crazy drivers hit the road.  After all, there was a winter storm warning posted.  Really there was.  So I went home.  And then all hell broke lose.

Yes – you guessed it – I live in the Atlanta area.

I grew up in western Pennsylvania.  We either walked to school or rode on a school bus that was more like a tank than a bus.  School cancellations were rare even though we got something like 200 feet of snow a year.   Okay – I may have made that number up.  But we did get a lot of snow.  And there were a lot of hills.  I still remember my father putting chains on our car and that distinct sound when they hit the road in their rhythmic metallic monotony.   Post-tire chain banning legislation, studded tires became all the rage.  You knew winter was coming when it was time to put on the “snow” tires.

Most of my adult life, I was a Buckeye.  Ohio, home of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Schmidt’s cream puffs and Cincinnati-style chili.  Winters are not quite as bad as in Pennsylvania, but we still had plenty of snow, sleet, freezing rain and ice.  Sometimes all at once!

I was an odd ball.  I enjoyed when my kids school would get cancelled.  It meant that we could all play in the snow!   We did “snow things” – created snow angels, went sledding/saucering, built snow forts/igloos and snowmen, had snowball fights.  And at the end of the day – a huge pile of soaking wet snowsuits, jackets, gloves, hats, scarves, socks and boots by the garage door, cocoa by the fireplace, and a sound, deep sleep that night.  Fun times!

What happened in the Atlanta area this week wasn’t fun.

You all heard about it on the news so I won’t go over it again.  Depressing really.  Infuriating actually.  The news coverage was surreal.   Hopelessly clogged roadways, sheets of ice that were once interstates littered with jack knifed tractor trailers, people in leather shoes and jackets abandoning their cars in 15 degree weather after driving 3 miles in 8 hours.  The cars – out of gas, dead batteries, wrecked.  The people – hungry, thirsty, needing medications or a bathroom, sleep deprived, at their wits end…  Some walked 6 miles to get home or to shelter.

The worst of it was the children.  Hundreds stuck in unheated school busses, some in ditches.  The kids marooned at school were lucky.  They had heat and food and water and toilets and familiar adults around.  Some children made it home – eventually.  They got rides from people they knew.  They got rides from strangers.  Think about that one…  And when many got home – hungry, thirsty, exhausted and frightened – the house was empty.  Their panicked parents were out looking for them, stuck either in the unrelenting gridlock or on the many hills that were impossible to climb.

Our children.

I try not to get too political.  I hate what politics has become.  But I think the Atlanta metro area needs to suck it up, put their big boy pants on and pull them up.   We need to figure out what to do so that we never, ever allow our children to be put a risk like this again.  That might mean that each little city-state fiefdom down here might have to give up some of their autonomy.  That might mean some higher taxes for strategic transportation improvements.  That might mean hiring people who actually have experience in developing and implementing emergency/disaster strategies rather than relying on the “good old boy” network to fill critical public safety positions with political cronies.  “Brownie, you’re doing a heckuva job…”

Our elected officials say they will apply the “lessons learned” from this week’s debacle as if they were talking about the implementation of a new IT payroll system didn’t go as planned.

Really??

I hope the people of Georgia will apply their own “lessons learned” come election day.

For our children.