August 15, 2017


This is a monument that I've shared before. (I hope Tom does not mind me showing this in his Tuesday linkup!)  This depicts Robert E. Lee and it's at Antietam, where I think it is appropriate because he commanded an army there. Well, except that (a) the statue is facing the wrong direction, and (b) it depicts Lee on horseback on an occasion when he spent little time on his horse due to injured wrists. But overall, it doesn't bother me because Lee was in command during this important battle, although his army did not win it.

Another statue of Lee has been in the news lately, one in Charlottesville that the town is planning to remove. Now that one does bother me. Lee did not fight in Charlottesville. The only battle there was a small cavalry skirmish on Rio Hill, and Lee was not there. And he did not live there, or work there. So why is he there now?

The answer lies with the Lost Cause, a set of beliefs about the old south and the soldiers who fought for it. The people who survived the war in the southern states wanted to make sense of their losses and honor their loved ones. The wrote books and erected monuments espousing a myth-infused version of history. Their myths persist today, serving to confuse people instead of enlightening them. And the symbols of the very-racist Confederacy are uncomfortable for many people to see.

Some localities want to remove the Lost Cause memorials, but when Charlottesville decided to remove Lee's statue, a controversy erupted. Protests became a focus of white supremacists (mostly from other places), and resulted in violence and tragedy his weekend. No doubt I have oversimplified this story, but I want to get to the point. Our memorials and monuments are not always accurate, and it is wise to question them. In some places, it is fitting to simply put up a sign explaining what the real history is. But localities have the right to move these memorials if they see fit, especially if they feel the monument is causing harm to the community.

By the way, I am interested in Civil War history and there are currently 586 posts about it on this blog. My degree is in American History and Photography. To be clear, I have no doubt that the Civil War started because of slavery. But it was started by politicians, and many of the soldiers who fought were barely aware of the cause. They signed up due to loyalty to their own communities and the desire to be seen as brave and patriotic. Their descendants defend their ancestors, most of whom did not own slaves. People still argue about this war and let it divide them. I realize that anything I say about it will offend someone and I regret that. But we need to understand each other.

Disclosure: My ancestors fought for the United States of America. I have lived my entire life in Virginia and absorbed some of the Lost Cause version of history as a child. I fear this is still being taught and fostering misunderstandings.

August 14, 2017

Geology at Sunset

Earlier this month I attended a History at Sunset program at Cedar Creek Battlefield. It had been rescheduled due to a severe storm so not many people showed up. Nonetheless, Ranger Rick gave a spirited tour on geology and hydrology of the battlefield. 

The ranger waded into Cedar Creek to demonstrate hydrology techniques. Here is looks for creatures that live in the water as an indication of how clean it is. Turns out it is not too bad. 

The Stickley Farm at Cedar Creek

By the time we reached the old Bowman-Hite farm, sunset was approaching. We examined shale beside the road and found a piece with a fossil of a small sea shell. 

After that we made one more quick stop to talk about the red clay that is prevalent in the area, but it was too dark for any more pictures.

August 13, 2017

Front Royal Presbyterian Church

It's Sunday so it's a good time to share pictures of a church. The architecture is interesting and I can post a link on the InSpired Sunday meme.

I pass this church on the way to Eastham Park. I don't think of myself as Presbyterian although one of my grandmothers was a grandchild of a prominent Presbyterian minister named Robert David Harper. He authored a book called The Church Memorial. During the Civil War he was in charge of a hospital at Camp Dennison, Ohio.

Allow me to jump forward to the present time, in which we have not been able to put the Civil War behind us in spite of 150 years having passed. A tragic event in Charlottesville yesterday painfully reminded us of this. The National Clergy Council released statements including one from Presbyterian minister Patrick J. Mahoney of D.C., who said,  "As a God-fearing country we cannot allow hatred, bigotry, or prejudice to stand. People of faith, leaders of faith communities, and all good people of conscience must speak out and take action now."

August 12, 2017

Green Heron and a Radio Deer

It looks like a green heron has taken up residence by our neighborhood lake. I never saw him before this summer but I've seen him a number of times already this month.

These two photos are from this afternoon. As soon as I stopped the car and took the first picture, he rose up and flew away. Fortunately I was able to follow him through the viewfinder and get a picture of him flying. Impressive wingspan, isn't it?
Sharing with Saturday's Critters and The Bird D'Pot

Next we have a deer wearing a radio collar. This was next to the Dickey Ridge Visitors Center in Shenandoah National Park. Scientists are monitoring a number of deer in order to have data that will help to prevent chronic wasting disease.

August 11, 2017

Shapes, Colors, and Things to Do

Even though I've struggled with discomfort in my feet all summer, time has passed quickly. Life is still full of marvels! I have many photos I've never shared here, so five miscellaneous topics will help catch up on posting them. That many gives plenty of blog hop opportunities, starting with Willy Nilly Friday.

1. Lights inside a bank looked like a face to me!

Black and White Weekend
2. In contrast to the monochrome image, here is one full of colors. 

Orange You Glad and Skywatch Friday
3. Tomorrow is the annual Route 11 Yard Crawl extending the length of Shenandoah County plus some of the adjoining counties. Vendors started setting up yesterday. We expect heavy traffic on U.S. 11, so if you are in a hurry, stay on I-81!

4. Getaway is the topic for My Town Shootout this week.  People in my area are fortunate in that Shenandoah National Park is nearby, and it makes a dramatic place to escape to.

Also Sharing with Weekend Reflections
Once in a while I see something jarring in that beautiful park, like the trash that someone left in this scene. People should know better!

5. Not far from there I followed a sign for Produce. Like many other vegetable stands in the Shenandoah Valley, they offer an honor system when no one is there to staff the market. 

"Our Price List is Up. Just leave Your Money." (Signs, Signs)
The proprietor was there yesterday, however. And he seemed to be busy.

Have fun this weekend!

August 10, 2017

Decorated Fences

The first fence is in Strasburg, Virginia. It's been fixed up recently and I think it looks pretty!

The other one is in Singers Glen, VA. I included a vertical shot because I like the scene, even though it doesn't show the hearts as well as the final picture.

August 9, 2017

Some Common Birds

Mourning dove, sparrow, ducks, grackles.