Though this probably also should be called, "From Memorial Day to 4th of July," and it admittedly has a touch of "Story Musing."
While not intentional, since I kept hoping to write sooner, I seem to have managed a thematic framework in terms of dates.
On Memorial Day Springfield had the opportunity to recognize a long-forgotten hero, Leroy Key, who was buried out at Oakridge Cemetery. For the expanded story here are links to two Illinois State Journal-Register articles: (http://www.sj-r.com/top-stories/x487935511/Dave-Bakke-Civil-War-buffs-find-grave-of-Andersonville-prisoner-in-Springfield) and (http://www.sj-r.com/top-stories/x1555987949/Dave-Bakke-Hero-of-Civil-Wars-Andersonville-prison-to-get-grave-marker-at-Oak-Ridge).
What better way to recognize Memorial Day then to awaken the memory of a man who had long been lost and forgotten. A man who not only survived the horrors of Andersonville Prison, but organized against the Raiders - men who preyed on fellow prisoners. Yet a man who had to carry the weight of his actions as he was the one to supervise the trial, and execution of these Raiders - men who were also Union soldiers.
And that weight, plus health issues, may have led to his suicide in 1880. Over a century later who is to say.
Author Frank Crawford, and his brother John Crawford, found the grave, which lacked a tombstone, while researching,
Proud to Say I am a Union Soldier: The Last Letters Home from Federal Soldiers Written During the Civil War, 1861-1865.
The day for the unveiling of the stone was a perfect day, crystaline skies, with fluffy clouds, and though warm it was not so hot as to be stifling.
And for whatever spirits might linger at Oakridge, particularly Mr Key, and the other civil war veterans, the scene would have seemed reminiscent of the early Memorial Days. The Municipal Band played, and with the fine outfitting of the 114h Regiment Reactivated and the 10th Illinois Volunteer Cavalry Regiment Reactivated, and the ladies of the Aid Society, the scene could have been cut from a hundred years past.
The speeches were very moving, and as was fitting for Memorial Day, the ceremony bound together a recognition of all of our veterans.
I was also privately proud of my Treeing Walker Coonhound, Winston, as he proved as calm as ever as the 21 gun salute went off. (To be accurate - he slept through it.) I know it sounds strange that I brought my dog with me, but Winston has already proved unaffected by loud sounds (he gets bored with bagpipes, and gets even more bored being home), and I have hopes he can train as a therapy dog due to his patience and gentle temperament. He's come a long way from being the nervous young hound that I brought home from the Animal Protective League.
My silence of the month actually stems from other canine activity, since I also added a 3 month old coonhound mix, Fiona, from Animal Control. I, however, will admit that I should never name anything when tired, since I later learned that "fiona" means "white" or fair," and the pup is nearly all black.
On July 1st I performed at the Elijah Iles House, "Clara Irwin's Strawberry Party." (http://iles-house.blogspot.com/)
This is always a delight to perform at. While the weather the was hot the evening was clear, and I was out under the tent. This makes for a very casual time for telling as families would come out so their children could try their hands at marbles, checkers, or ring toss. And soon they would settle for story or three, and a little discussion of history.
Nor was an offer of strawberry shortcake turned down.
I am a Springfield, IL based storyteller with a fascination for how folklore travels, and for history.