Memorial Day- 2015- Respect through the ages
A little over 2 1/2 years ago Lorain Mayor- Chase Ritenauer, Chief of Staff- Derek Feurestein , Ariel Vasquez of the Lorain Utilities Dept. met, along with the parents and family members of three of the young men who had lost their lives for our freedom in Iraq and Afghanistan, on what was then a derelict waste and dumping ground .
We trudged , and I mean that literally, through bracken, weeds, over fallen trees and mud as Ariel explained his vision for what would become Eric Barnes Heroes Walk.
Ariel explained how each young man would have a tribute garden with a bench , signage and artwork along a path which would meander through what was left of a woods, flower beds and a view of Lorain’s lakefront a priority . The pathway would connect the two areas already in place known as, Settlers’ Watch 2009
and at the opposite end of the site Admiral King Tribute site 2011.
The plan was ambitious. Ariel and his crew, with the support of the volunteers and donations through Charleston Village Society, would have phase one completed by November 11th-2012.
As I walked the pathway on Pride Day,
I could not credit how far the area had progressed in the months and changing seasons since that walk of vision. The plants grown and tended so beautifully by our volunteer “Constant Gardener- Joe” . Thinking back to that day in 2012 I remembered the look on the faces of the others as we stumbled through the undergrowth – they weren’t so sure themselves this plan would come to fruition!
Once more this morning, I walked in the sunshine, the blue of the lake sparkling as the waves danced and the wind blew the clouds around an azure sky, with my two grandsons- ages 6 and 3. We were putting out the flags for Memorial Day, a job they hold very dear.
As we went along, making sure each garden and area was recognized, I admonished Gavin telling him to make sure the flags never touched the ground. Being six, the question arose,
I didn’t want to confuse them anymore than I usually do with my explanations and this was an important WHY? I said it was
out of respect for the young men and woman who gave their lives for their country, in this case the United States and the flag was very important as it was carried into battle.
But why can’t it touch the ground- NOG?
Even from Roman times the “standard” was considered extremely important –
The standard-bearer normally was in close proximity to the unit leader. When the standard ‘fell’, the unit members did not have a visual point to rally around or return and the possibility that the leader had fallen was great. Loss of a standard in battle was considered to be one of the worst things to happen – the Honor of the unit was lost. By the same token, capturing a standard by an opponent was considered to be a tremendous act of courage.
With England’s long history emblems and flags ( standards) were most important on the field of battle and like the Romans the disappearance of the a standard/ flag on the battle field may well mean the battle was lost.
But I wasn’t absolutely certain about the United States history and the flag not touching the ground– was there another aspect my grandsons should know about?
Once again, the search for a reason – apart from respect as I knew it had to be – sent me to Google. To my surprise, I was brought full circle back to this community of Lorain. As I googled the reasoning, I was directed to a site about the Civil War and my eyes beheld a familiar painting .
COPY RIGHT 1890 STORMING OF FORT WAGNER – “CHARGE OF THE 54 MASS(COL) RGT JULY 18TH 1863- (UNION) GENERAL GILLMORE
Yes the Storming of Fort Wagner – the movie Glory – and my dining room companion General Gillmore !!![
Among the troops who assaulted Ft. Wagner was the 54th Massachusetts, a regiment of African-Americans led (as required by regulation) by white commissioned officers. Gillmore had ordered that his forces be integrated and that African-Americans were not to be assigned menial tasks only, such as KP or latrine duty, but instead they were to carry arms into battle. They and their assault on Ft. Wagner were the subject of the 1989 Civil War movie Glory, which starred Morgan Freeman and Matthew Broderick.
There, also, Sergeant William Carney, who had earlier taken up the National Colors when the color sergeant had been shot, planted the flag and fought off numerous attempts by the Confederates to capture it. Without support, and faced with superior numbers and firepower, the 54th was forced to pull back. Despite two severe wounds, Sergeant Carney carried the colors to the rear. When praised for his bravery, he modestly replied, “I only did my duty; the old flag never touched the ground.” Carney was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions, the first African-American to receive the award.
The next time I walk the path with my grandsons- I will tell them the story of General Gillmore, whose father owned all the land
upon which we walk, when we wander through Settlers’ Watch, Eric Barnes Heroes Walk, and Admiral King Tribute Site and how it was the men under his command who “never let the old flag touch the ground”
Entry filed under: Charleston Village, city of lorain, history, Lest we forget, Lorain Dude, Lorain's Magical History Tour, men of substance. Tags: Admiral King Tribute site, Civil War General Gillmore, Eric Barnes, Eric Barnes Heroes Walk Lorain, Flag not touching the ground, Lorain, Lorain's history, Medal Of Honor Sgt. Carney, Memorial Day, Respecting the Flag, Settlers' Watch, Sgt William Carney, Storming of Fort Wagner.