One gets the sense that the Ghosts of yesterday, Keep the Dreams of Tomorrow Alive in Jerome, Arizona. Sitting at 5000 feet, the small town is literally built into Cleopatra Hill and overlooks the Verde Valley in Northern, Arizona.
The town was once a thriving mining community which excavated gold, silver and copper from the bowels of the earth below it. The community grew quickly as many followed the money to the mountain town. As it goes with many boom towns, history dictates a quick rise and early fall to the community. In the early 1900s, Jerome was a thriving city made up of several churches, hotels, saloons, miscellaneous businesses and gambling halls. At its height, Jerome once supported a population of more than 14,000 residents. Mining operations began to decline in the area in the 1920s and by the 1950’s, no more than 100 individuals called Jerome home.
With conviction a town once dead can discover new life. The fires, sink holes and industrial economic upheaval could not ruin the Town of Jerome, and from the ashes rose an eclectic renaissance where the community now thrives. Tourism, artistic endeavors, and ghost hunting is now the basis of commerce in Jerome.
What is most interesting about Jerome, is that the City does not hide from its tumultuous decline. The remnants of brick buildings once burnt down now serve as landscape for recently completed artwork; their masonry shells protecting and showcasing individual skills of those who now reside in the area. If you’re in the vicinity, it worth visit. If the reported ghosts that haunt the town don’t get you, the winding mountain roads and scenery surely will.
I lived in a Portion of the Arabian Desert for about a year and vividly remember the sound of everlasting sand particles whipping against our frail canvas tent during storms which would appear at a moment’s notice. Once during a rare cold winter rain squall the tent flooded with a foot of water. We grabbed whatever we could and took shelter upon our cots which barely kept us out of the invading flood. The dry arid landscape surely presents many hardships and hidden dangers but during evenings in the desert, I found solace in the stillness of the nocturnal sky. In those chaotic days long past, the desert night sky provided a sense of peace in a place void of tranquility. There is beauty to be found is these vastly empty places.
I recently found myself in Saguaro National Park before sunrise on a frigid early morning walk. The park is located just outside of Tucson, AZ. I saw more than a few coyotes on my pre-dawn sojourn which was a bit intimidating. Saguaro is a different environment then the Arabian Desert but both places speak the same language, albeit with a different dialect. The sounds of the desert before sunrise eco the voices of life purged through the rugged reality of nature. If these creatures can survive the harsh struggles of the desert, then they deserve to be heard.
Leave all behind and walk the desert trails before dawn in Saguaro National Park, there is no telling what one will hear.
Memories recede beyond the dark abyss as the sun sets and rises again and again. Our history, our stories, our triumphs and failures deserve to be remembered, but sadly these stories mostly dwindle and fade away into forgetfulness. It’s as if the sun and the moon never notice life on earth or the efforts of those on the ground striving, working and yearning for something better. We mortals dwell, subsist and toil as best we can, but despite our greater works, the forces of nature care little of our deeds. From the stars, it’s hard to determine or measure the number of miracles that occur daily in the world below, but down in the weeds, where the footsteps of humanity tread in the muddy landscape, one can see miraculous events occur daily, if one is just willing to open their eyes to witness them.
Like the sun and the moon, humanity also suffers from the inability to observe such miracles, mostly due to human distractions which blind our perspective. What a world we could live in, if only we could open our eyes and see these wonderous events transpire before us. Our minds open to the goodness of humanity, which would allow us to absorb the positivity which emanates from these awe-inspiring works of art. Unfortunately, this is not the case, we our blinded in our own reality.
It is truly difficult to witness a miracle with so much ugliness surrounding us in the world. I firmly believe that both good and evil exists in the hearts of man. Even the most despicable person is worthy of genuine acts of kindness and vise-versa; the kindliest individual has the potential to do acts horrific beyond recognition. This duel characteristic of man makes life unpredictable and often blinds us to the good that is done daily. It’s the old story of the cowardly soul who accomplishes a courageous act making him an accidental hero or the loving supportive father and husband falling into temptation during a moment of weakness. These stories represent the multifaced characteristics that resides in all of us. We are awash with the tears of heavenly angels but still waiver against temptation and yearnings that lead us down very dark paths.
Maybe I have become an optimist in my declining years, but I believe there is more good in this world than bad and wonderous miracles happen every day. These events may not be huge or earth shattering from a broad perspective, but they are miracles none the less.
I think of a family friend who was severely injured with a traumatic brain injury during a motorcycle ride gone terribly wrong. This young man literally died and was brought forth back from death’s door. Doctors were confident that he would not survive but through what could only be a series of miracles, he survived and beat the odds. He continues to this day to make progress after numerous surgeries and procedures. The financial burden alone was enough to break him and his family, but they never wavered and continue to progress forward through their struggles and tribulations.
Three women saw this struggling family and endeavored to assist them in their time of need. These women have families, jobs, and burdens of their own, but their own problems did not stifle their yearning to make a positive difference. Filled with conviction, these ladies were truly motivated to make a positive difference. They developed an idea for a fundraiser and fervently worked the plan. Throughout their efforts, they faced roadblocks and pitfalls which impeded their progress, but unknown advocates assisted them along the way. They overcame many obstacles to raise more than four thousand dollars for the family in need. Their dedication to service was truly the divine spark which lead to the successful fundraiser, but we can’t forget the many people that helped them along the way and the generosity of those who attended the fundraising event that cold winter night to kindly and freely give to a worthy cause.
When I ponder the story above, I see miracles in action, combining with other positive acts of kindness. A miracle can be as small as a divine spark or as large as the widest ocean. My hope is that we can open our eyes more to the goodness that occurs every day instead of focusing on the negativity that brings us down. We can’t be naïve to the darkness that exists in our world but by focusing more upon everyday acts of good, maybe the world can be just a little bit brighter.
The Definition of Miracle
• An extraordinary event manifesting divine intervention in human affairs.
• An extremely outstanding or unusual event, thing, or accomplishment.
This time a year I dwell upon those American Colonials who took up arms against the British Empire which represented the greatest military of that age. What courage, what valor, what vicious tenacity it took our forbear’s to wage a war against such overwhelming odds. Our Colonial ancestors stood against tyranny but by doing so they put their very lives upon a gauntlet of death for an idea of Freedom. It was this Idea of Freedom that was eventually summarized into our Declaration of Independence which still stands as a testimony of what those brave souls fought for so many years ago.
Our Country is not perfect but Freedom still reigns true in the United States and I am so very Thankful for all those that have stood for and continue to defend the ideals of our Declaration of Independence.
Just wanted to share a few thoughts I had as I Ponder this Memorial Day:
Many soldiers did not come back from wars ugly embrace, many who did are still drowning under the weight of its cruel grip. They breath pain and exhale guilt. Their smiles are gone and only exist in the sorrow of Yesterday. Many vetrans believe, it would have been better to die in a place where honor and duty paved a road to heights above the mountain plattue, into the puffy cloud filled sky.
22 Veterans a day lose their lives because the of the burden of memories gone by is just to heavy to carry on. Some gave some, some gave all but many still continue to fight, just trying to find a way home..
We can do better, we must do better. Every day is should be Memorial Day.
A blizzard roars outside causing the house to creek with fear, the wind is relentless. My hope is that our pipes will not freeze this cold squally evening. With no electricity, I am on battery power and hope to put thoughts on paper before my laptop fades away. Just a few days ago the roads cleared enough to take my cycle for much-needed maintenance ride. It was a cold day, but that short trip on two wheels brought needed joy in the form of adrenaline to my mind and body. Winter never dies, it just fades away in Colorado. It’s mid-March, I thought the worst was behind us, but Old Man Winter is not done tormenting my soul. Motorcyclist are not bound by the rules of society or cultural norms, but a polar vortex will surely stop us in our tracks.
My hope was that the riding season was upon us, but I know now that my dream was just a fleeting glimpse of reality. Hope can be a wild beast to ride, but it’s a ride worth living. Hope drives us to find a better tomorrow and uplifts our spirits during time of need. Hope is one of the greatest motivational forces and is an immensely powerful force of good which can dictate positive action.
Another survival tactic that one can rely on is to dive into the situation fully immersed without dwelling upon the situation and its many negative characteristics. The Phrase “Embrace the Suck” epitomizes this theory of living. When you are in a situation where life is just bleak and miserable, and one does not have any control of external influences than sometimes the best track is to dive into the misery and let it become you. It’s about not wishing for a change in the environment but finding the good within it. If you are willing to open your eyes, most situations have something that one can be thankful for. “Embrace the Suck” goes deeper then that; one must be willing to fully commit to the situation they are in and put forth all effort to enjoy it without a logical approach of reasoning. It’s a mindset, a way to propel yourself forward by throwing yourself into the ugly reality and enjoying it.
Keep the rubber side down, the sun shall shine again as the new dawn approaches.
Little Round Top is hallowed ground; it’s a place where courage, death, and valor met on a bloody hill. It’s a place where the extreme heroic actions of a few, helped extend the reach of freedom for those in bondage. Union men defended that small knoll and their sacrifice literally saved a young nation. Little Round Top served as the last Southern anchor point of the Union Army on the Second Day of the Battle of Gettysburg. If the defending soldiers were overwhelmed by the Confederate forces at this critical location, then the Union Armies Left Flank would fall. The Confederates would then gain the high ground and like dominoes, the Union Army would have toppled upon its self. If the Union Army was routed at Gettysburg in the Northern State of Pennsylvania, Confederate General Robert Lee would be free to march his Army south uncontested and force President Lincoln to capitulate to the Confederate Cause.
On the early morning of July 2, 1863, the high ground on the Union Force’s far left flank laid undefended from an impending Confederate attack. Without orders and on his own initiative, Union Colonel Strong Vincent, knowing the vital importance of the position ordered his Third Brigade to occupy and defend the high ground at a small hill called Little Round Top. The order to secure this vital position was given to the 20th Maine Volunteers Commanded by Colonel Joshua Chamberlain. Only a year previous, Colonel Chamberlain was a Professor of Rhetoric at Bowdoin College in Maine. He spoke more than 8 languages fluently but had little military experience and only became the Commander of the Infantry Company a month previously. Colonel Chamberlain was given the order from Colonel Strong Vincent to, “hold the ground at all hazards”. Within minutes of taking their positions on that little rocky hill, the 20th Maine was attacked by the 15th Alabama, Commanded by Colonel William Oates. Multiple attacks by the Confederates were thrown up that hill and were repulsed by the Union Troops. After each attack, the Confederates shifted their forces to flank and overwhelm the 20th Maine. After many assaults on their position, Union Forces found themselves stretched thin and without ammunition to defend against another attack. Colonel Chamberlain’s orders were clear, there was to be no surrender. Without hope of reinforcements, little ammunition nor men to hold the line, the situation was dire. At that moment, the Professor from Bowdoin College gave the order to those left in his Command to equip bayonets. With no other options available, Colonel Joshua Chamberlain issued the order to attack down the blood drenched hill. This action served to confuse and disorient the Confederate Forces and turned the tide of the battle. The Confederate forces never recovered from the Chamberlain’s bayonet charge and were driven from the field saving the high ground and the Union’s left flank.
Colonel William Oats, Commander of the 15th Alabama Infantry who lost half his force on that gory day explained, “the dead literally covered the ground”. Union Army Colonel Strong Vincent who ordered the defense of Little Round Top was mortally wounded while rallying his men. He was promoted to General while on his death bed before succumbing to his wounds. Colonel Joshua Chamberlain survived the three-day Battle of Gettysburg and continued to lead men into battle. At the Second Battle of Petersburg, Colonel Chamberlain was severely wounded and was suspected to die of his wounds and was promoted to the rank of Brigadier General. He even out maneuvered death and survived the wound to live till age 85. After the war he served as the Governor of Maine as well as President of Bowdoin College.
The History that can still be felt at Little Round Top is palatable to the senses. Take the time to wonder the many monuments dedicated to all that fought there. My suggestion is to read the book “Killer Angeles” by Michael Shaara. Its not a long read but is informative beyond measure and written in such a way that is pure historical bliss. Reading the book will help you acclimatize yourself to the many facets of the Battle of Gettysburg and will give you additional information to help you more enjoy your visit.