Friday, May 27, 2011

This was written in hopes that the weekly newspaper, The Lawrence County Advocate, Lawrenceburg, Tenn. would post it during the week prior to Memorial Day. It was denied. I sent a letter to publisher Sam Kennedy, pleading that it be published. He ignored me. Maybe you will ask him why

He does have the right not to publish it and he has the right to publish a free press, thanks to those of us who fought the enemies for it. That includes those brave heroes who are buried in the cemeteries around the world.

With this type heartless publisher and his employees of this newspaper, it reminds me why I left this God forsaken place in the early 1940s at age 14. Memorial Day has been designated in America for honoring the dead who served in the military defending our nation. It’s difficult for me to understand why my letter on this subject was not honored.

The content of my letter also reflects the history of the 1920s and ‘30s of what it was like when I was growing up with three older brothers, who also served on the battlefields during World War II. Since my Memorial Day remarks were denied caused me to wonder if any of Advocate employees were ever shot at on the battlefield.

I am a real patriotic American. I have been a warrior. I am a retired United States Marine who will not be denied. I will post this on my website for the world to read. Who would buy an ad from The Lawrence County Advocate?

Decoration Day aka Memorial Day
I remember when it was called “Decoration Day.” That was when I was growing up in the 1920s and 1930s while living with my parents in the community of Barnesville, Northwest Lawrence County, Tenn.

In Barnesville during the Great Depression (1929-1942), Decoration Day was not just a day off from scratching in the soil to survive; it was a day to honor and remember the valiant soldiers who had served and those who had given their lives in all the wars to keep us and others around the world free.

I recall Barnesville in the early 1930s when it had two general stores for shopping and freight trains traveling east and west which stopped in Barnesville for a new supply of water for the coal burning engine from Saw Creek. We also had a Methodist Church and a cemetery. Our log house and hilly farm was adjacent on the south side of Saw Creek.

The train stopped running on Sept. 30, 1934 since the operation of the train was no longer justified and Lawrence County purchased the railroad bed for use of a public road and named it Railroad Bed Pike. However, we still have the cemetery, and the Methodist Church is still standing with God locked inside with padlocks on the doors.

About 20 years ago, I requested Methodist District Headquarters, located at Martin Methodist College, Pulaski, Tenn. to assign a preacher to Barnesville Methodist Church. My request was denied over and over during a year or more.

To get me off their backs, they gave the Barnesville Methodist Church and grounds away to the Barnesville community without telling me. If the Methodist headquarters no longer owned it, no preacher would be assigned by them. The church is now in control of self-appointed committee and it is not used for any useful purpose. The one-room church building needs lots of repair and if the termites would stop holding hands, the church would fall to the ground for the last count.

On Decoration Day, neighbors in the community would gather at the cemetery to place flowers on relatives’ graves and chat with each other. This is not happening today. When the name Decoration Day was changed to Memorial Day, it became a three-day weekend to party. How delightful it would be to once again see families celebrating this day, not only as a day to play but as a day to remember and honor our fallen warriors.

I am the last still living of the Barnesville Belew family. My mother, father, two sisters and a brother are buried in the Barnesville cemetery directly across the road from the 100 year-old Methodist Church. My parents were heavenly involved in the Barnesville Methodist Church. They always paid 10 percent of their income to the church. In later years after my father died, my mother bought the paint each year to be used for repainting the church.

If health permits, I will drive 400 miles north from my Northwest Florida home to honor those who are buried there and decorate my family graves with flowers. It would be happiness to see others there like in the old days. Maybe the padlock key keeper will leave the church door unlocked for this special day. Most everything changed for the better during my 85 years of life, but decorating the cementers is not one of them.

For those who want to place a flag or flowers on veterans’ graves, Lawrence County has dozens of cemeteries and a buried veteran(s) can be found in each of them. Visit the following Lawrence County Archives – Genealogical Society Web site for name and location of cemeteries.