Where do I start? I lie there in bed and all these thoughts race through my head and I know that sleep will not come until I get them on paper, perhaps.
I see and I wonder “Does anyone else see or care about what is happening to this once sleepy little town we know as Milledgeville?” Certainly someone much younger than this almost 80-year-old man, feels the same way, yet they lack the initiative to address it publicly for fear of scorn. At my age, let it come.
I thank God everyday that I have raised my children long before this rush to destruction it seems our world is headed in. At the same time I live with the fear that it might affect the grandchildren I have, who may become the victims of the moral decay and lack of decorum we see all around us.
We moved here back in the ‘70s, the hometown of my lovely wife. This community impressed me before our move when we would come for an occasional visit. As we drove down its, sometimes unpaved, country roads, people you passed by would stop what they were doing and throw up a hand to wave. They didn't know us from Adam but still there was that congeniality that seemed to prevail here. Sadly, you don't see much of that anymore.
I was raised in and around Louisville Kentucky and people just didn't do that where I come from. That of course makes me a “Damd Yankee,” seenin as how I never left.
Back to my thoughts lets start with the Yankee part of me. I was raised by God fearing parents who saw no difference in themselves and people of color. We shared the dinner table many times with men of color who my father worked with as a maintenance man for a large property owner in Louisville. Father made sure that we spoke to them as respectfully as any other man with “yes sir and no sir.”
Sadly, I can remember the bathrooms and water fountains in the Greyhound and Trailways bus stations with signs over them saying “Whites only.” But I also remember coming through the little town of Sparta, Ga. in the late ‘70s. We stopped at a small station just on the east side of town for gas and to go to the bathroom. Much to my surprise as I walked around the side of the station there was a sign over the door, “Whites only.” It shocked me to say the very least.
So, I would like to address the issue of the statues in front of the library if I might.
I have strong feelings that it would be wrong to move them. We can't teach the real history of our country, the good and the bad, if we continue to hide it.
When I look at those two men I see no joy on their faces, no pride or jubilation, just a sad and questioning look, an emptiness in their eyes. I see the face of men with worry of what lies ahead. He is heading home with no idea of the condition of his family or of the home he left behind. Is it still standing or was it one that Sherman torched on his way through the state?
Following President Lincoln's pledge of “with malice towards none” he still has his gun so he can at least hunt game until he can get a crop in the ground. That too bears the question of whether he still has a horse or mule left after the Yankees butchered all the livestock they didn't take with them.
Then after arriving home and starting to rebuild his life, he, along with his now freed black neighbors fell to the treachery of the “carpet baggers,” perpetuating the so-called promise from General Sherman of “40 acres and a mule.”
So please, don't take down or move the monument, instead let it stand as a lesson of what Paul Harvey would say was, “The rest of the Story.”
Russell S. Martin