- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
An American flag flies from its sky-high pole at our home year-around.
A U.S. Air Force veteran lives here, and the survivors of generations of veterans, starting with the American Revolution, live here.
On Memorial Day, Flag Day and Veterans' Day, we pause and pay tribute to all who served in our nation's wars.
I think of my great-grandfather, Samuel Davidson Laughlin, a Union color bearer in the Civil War who carried the American flag in several of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War: the Siege of Vicksburg, Battle of Lookout Mountain, and the battles of Chickamauga and Chattanooga. The 6'3" farm boy from Linn, Mo. towered over his fellow soldiers. Height, as well as strength and courage, determined who carried the flags. It was an honor accorded to only a few.
Sam Laughlin and his white-knuckle grip on the American flag portrayed a defining moment in history. He escaped the blood and bullets of the Civil War unscathed. His flag did not; a musket tore a hole in it.
What he saw on the battlefields, however, would torment him and his fellow soldiers for decades.
The horrors of war....
Back at camp, did they ever pause to see a little beauty reminding them of the existence of Mother Nature...such as a butterfly fluttering by? Not during the late fall or winter months! Perhaps they did at the Siege of Vicksburg (May 18-July 4, 1863)? Maybe a monarch to soothe the soul?
"Some of the most breathtaking sights are those created by Mother Nature. And during the next few weeks, we'll get to experience one of her most eye-catching works – the spring migration of the monarch butterfly. The vibrant insects pass right through Mississippi, creating a colorful show in the sky."--Only in Your State (Mississippi)
Flying high, flying free.
- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
Today is Veterans' Day, honoring and celebrating our U.S. military veterans.
When I think of Veterans' Day, I think of all my ancestors, from the Revolutionary War on down, who answered our country's call for service. I think of my great-grandfather, Samuel Davidson Laughlin, a color bearer in the Civil War who carried the American flag for the Union Army in three of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War: the Battle of Lookout Mountain, and the battles of Chicamauga and Chattanooga. The 6'3" farm boy from Linn, Mo. towered over his fellow soldiers. Height, as well as strength and courage, determined who carried the flags. It was an honor accorded to only a few.
Samuel Davidson Laughlin survived the Civil War but not the wrath of mosquitoes, which targeted him at the Siege of Vicksburg. "He caught malaria in the Yazoo swamps of the Yazoo River," his youngest daughter Esther would recount. "He said they'd spread their blankets and they'd be lying in the water in the morning. The only way they could keep out of the water was to throw fence rails down and put their blankets on top of that. That's where he picked up malaria. There was no sanitation whatsoever, and of course, they had to use the water there for drinking."
Fast forward to today. When we set up two American flags on our front porch this morning, we paid tribute to all the Samuel Davidson Laughlins, past, present and future. The men. The women. The children. Those who came before us and those who will come after us.
And we thought of this 18-year-old farm boy turned color bearer who hoisted the Red, White and Blue high over the heads of his fellow soldiers.
But, by chance, did he see other colors, too, outside the battlefield? Like the colors of a monarch butterfly fluttering over the war-ravaged landscape? A little serenity in all that insanity? A little hope in all that despair? A little glee in all that grief?
We like to think so.