Exploring Past US History
The past two weeks, Sheryl and I have been in Virginia. While there we toured several US historic sites, learned new facts, and were reminded of things we learned long ago.
Our stops included Williamsburg, Jamestown, and Yorktown. While visiting Yorktown, we went to the field where Cornwallis surrendered the Royal troops to the American revolutionaries—bringing an end to the Revolutionary War.
The Yorktown Surrender Field where the Revolutionary War ended
At each we saw interpretive movies and heard talks by National Park rangers. Ever since my sister was a National Park ranger at the Ulysees S. Grant home in St. Louis years ago, I have always looked to attend a ranger talk when visiting a national park.
In Charlottesville, we toured Monticello and were (once again) impressed by the life of Thomas Jefferson. His tombstone states three accomplishments which he requested be inscribed there: Author of the Declaration of Independence, a Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom, and Father of the University of Virginia. Not bad! You’ve probably heard John Kennedy’s famous line said while dining with a group of Nobel Laureates from the Western Hemisphere, “I want to tell you how welcome you are to the White House. I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent, of human knowledge, that has ever been gathered together at the White House, with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone.” He was correct.
Jefferson’s Essay in Architecture—Monticello
In the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War, Appomattox was a very special visit. Our ranger talk there focused on the last 50 miles the troops hiked en route to Appomattox. We learned that as fellow graduates of the US Military Academy in West Point, Generals Grant and Lee had great respect for each other. Grant (following Lincoln’s wishes) offered generous terms of surrender which Lee and the Southern armies accepted with dignity. A sign in the Visitor’s Center summed up the events with the phrase: “Honor Answers Honor.”
The road at Appomattox where Confederate troops surrendered and laid down their arms to end the Civil War.
Reconnecting with Our Missions Past
Charlotte Digges “Lottie” Moon (December 12, 1840 – December 24, 1912) was a Southern Baptist missionary to China with the Foreign Mission Board who spent nearly forty years (1873–1912) living and working in China. As a teacher and evangelist she laid a foundation for traditionally solid support for missions among Baptists in America. She is the “patron saint” among Southern Baptists for foreign missions. As children growing up in a Southern Baptist environment, both Sheryl and I were nurtured on Lottie Moon stories. This trip gave us two chances to link up with her story.
In Scottsville, Virginia, we stopped by the church that Lottie’s father began. It houses the “Lottie Moon Room” the church keeps in her memory.
The Lottie Moon Room at First Baptist Church, Scottsville, Virginia
And in Crewe, Virginia, we visited the site where her ashes are buried.
The Lottie Moon gravesite in Crewe, Virginia
Reconnecting with Friends from the Past
With Billy and Marlis Kruschwitz at Williamsburg, VA
In Williamsburg, we had lunch with International Mission Board colleague Billy Kruschwitz and his wife Marlis. We had a great time at Shield’s Tavern.
With Bill and Judy Smith in Charlottesville, VA
In Charlottesville, we stayed with long-time San Francisco friends Bill and Judy Smith.
With Bill Bangham in Richmond, VA
And in Richmond, we had lunch with International Mission Board colleague Bill Bangham. (You probably saw the picture he posted on Facebook of the three of us.)
This part of our trip we call the “Billy, Bill, and Bill” portion.
Exploring Our Personal Past
Sheryl’s seventh great-grandfather, William Churchill, was born in 1664 and died on November 18, 1710 in Middlesex County, Virginia. I find it amazing to be able to trance her genealogy that far back and not learn that he died “around 1710.” Instead we have his will and the exact date of death. A highlight of our trip was an outing to his large farm on the Rappahannock River which he called Bushy Park after his home in England. Our time at the Middlesex County Library yielded much additional information which we will be processing during upcoming days.
Field at William Churchill’s farm, Bushy Park, in Middlesex county Virginia
Street Sign for Bushy Park
Dreaming About the Future
We are settling into a routine of married life in Birmingham. Sheryl’s friends (largely from Vestavia Hills Baptist Church) have welcomed me and been enthusiastic about our marriage. We’ve been to Atlanta twice in past weeks to bubblewrap the art and begin packing books and dishes at my condo. We continue to work on Sheryl’s townhouse.
This weekend we are thinking about the past and the impact that those who went before have had on our nation. Memorial Day is a time to be grateful for both the lives lost and lives lived that have helped shape our nation.
VIRGINIA IS FOR LOVERS
Thanks for the history and hospitality we received while there.