Monday, January 19, 2004

Justice Flowing Down Like Water

An interesting weekend, to say the least. I had two photo assignments; one to photograph the proceedings of Lee-Jackson Day here in Lexington, and the other to photograph the Martin Luther King day celebrations at the town's largest African-American church.

A little background on Lee-Jackson Day, first. It was first celebrated in 1904 in Lexington to honor Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson, both of who are buried here. Someone at the paper told me it started off as some kind of banquet, and that its appearance on the calendar has wavered on and off. It became a state employees' holiday in Virginia three years ago, and until the appearance of MLK Day was celebrated on the third Monday in January. Today it is celebrated on the third Friday of the month.

This year, I went out to Stonewall Jackson Cemetary to take photos of the graveside service in honor of L-J Day. I was late getting to the service, but siffice it to say, what I caught was interesting. About half the crowd was re-enactors in period dress. They sang hymns, said prayers, and played "Taps" as a coterie of re-enactors fired a three-gun salute in honor of Jackson.

It was a nice, historical kind of ceremony, although I couldn't help wondering who was there for the history and who was there as an "F-you" to integration. A little while later, the re-enactors marched down Main Street as they made their way to Gen. Lee's crypt (located, conveniently enough, in Lee Chapel on the W&L campus.)

As they were marching and I was taking photos, a man in civilian clothes walked by me carrying a Confederate battle flag over his shoulder I thought little of him until a few minutes later, when he decided for no reason whatsoever to yell "Hooray for the South! Everybody sing 'Dixie'!" At this point, he began to sing the song, with maybe a couple of other people singing along. Unfortunately, he got the words wrong, singing:

Oh, a way down South in the land of cotton...

when the words should be:

Oh, I wish I were in the land of cotton

That was when I decided that I had enough photos of the Lee-Jackson parade.

The next day I went to Lexington Baptist Church for Martin Luther King Day services. The minister of the church there was retiring after many years in the pulpit, and he preached a sermon that made the hairs on my neck stand up; it was that good. It was a pretty heady contrast to the L-J day services.

Oh, and also, today is mine and the Bunny Bear's six-month anniversary. Happy, Happy, Kathy! I love you!!!

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