“Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.” — C. S. Lewis
“A few figs from thistles…”
by Howard A. Tabor
Ghosts of Christmas Past #11:
During the twelve months leading to our 2007 sesquicentennial celebration, this column explored the people and places we take for granted or, more often, never recognized — Agincourt’s hidden history. So while you attend the July 4th fireworks display tomorrow evening — sponsored for the first time by all of Fennimore county’s veterans organizations — recall the sacrifices made by those on and off the battlefield to keep this community secure.
On the way to the office yesterday I invested two hours at The Square, reviewing the arsenal of lives recorded there on monuments, plaques, and pavements; names that once had faces smiling back at us, who might have made so many other contributions that death cut short. Some of those one-hundred-fifty-plus names were familiar: John Beddowes, only son of Amos and Circe Beddowes, among the earliest casualties in the Civil War. Or Marshall McGinnis, Agincourt’s first to die in World War I. At seventeen or less, what else might these boys and others have achieved?
The Square testifies to much — too much, I think, if we read between the lines. By rough calculation, and assuming that some of our armed conflicts have been simultaneous, the Nation has been “at war” for fifty-five of the last 163 years. That’s one-third of the time since Agincourt’s incorporation as a municipality! The odds that any of us have been untouched by war are astronomic.
The range of monuments are equally astounding for what they say about each generation’s way to memorialize: from spectacular (the High Victorian opulence of the Civil War) to spartan (Vietnam, the war that wouldn’t go away). But their collective spirit is summarized in the simplest of them: a ten-foot carnelian granite fallen obelisk inscribed “REMEMBER.”
I invite you to do just that tomorrow amid the sight and sound and acrid smoke of fireworks.