Madison County Opinion...

 September 20, 2000


Column
By Frank Gillespie
The Madison County Journal
September 20, 2000

Frankly Speaking

Honoring our Confederate dead
Madison County, Georgia, contributed heavily to the Confederate Army, sending over 450 men into some of the heaviest fighting of the war.
Now several groups are working to revive the memory and honor of these men. This Saturday, Sept. 23, a re-dedication of the Chandler Family Cemetery near Blacks Creek Church will feature several members of the Confederate Army who are buried there.
This effort is spearheaded by family members who have spent the last year cleaning and restoring the cemetery. Confederate re-enactors from the 16th Georgia in Macon will take part, along with several members of the Madison County Greys, Sons of Confederate Veterans and others.
The public is invited to this event. I urge you to attend and bring your children. This may be one of the few opportunities you have to teach your children about Southern heritage.
The cemetery is easy to find. Just come to Blacks Creek Church Road and follow the signs.
The other project that deserves your attention is the effort by the Madison County Greys to find and document the graves of Confederate veterans. One of the early results of this effort is the discovery that many of the county's Confederate veterans were either lost in combat, or buried on the various battlefields. In any case, many of them never returned. Madison County soldiers fought in many of the deadliest battles in the war.
Their losses in killed, injured and captured were huge. For example, of the 160 men who formed Company A, 16th Georgia Volunteer Infantry, only a handful were left to surrender with General Lee at the end of the war.
No, the local SCV camp is exploring an idea proposed by Charlotte Bond of the Heritage Foundation. We would like to erect a monument somewhere in the county dedicated to those men who left Madison County to fight against Northern aggression and were unable to return.
Madison County is one of only a handful of Georgia counties without a major Confederate memorial. Yet the price paid by our fighting men was among the highest in the Confederate Army. They deserve to be memorilized.
Finding a site, designing and purchasing a fitting memorial will be time consuming and expensive. If we are to succeed, we will need the support of other clubs, organizations and individuals. Anyone willing to assist in this project will be welcome.
If you are interested, or would like more information about either of these projects, please contact me. My email is frankg@mcga.net, Write to me at Box 521, Hull Georgia, or leave a message for me at the newspaper office.
Someone once said that those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it.
Yet our Southern culture and history are being lost at a rapid rate. It is important that we take action to preserve our history and heritage. These two projects will go a long way toward the effort.
Frank Gillispie is founder of The Madison County Journal. His web page can be accessed at www.mcga.net. His e-mail address is frankg@mcga.net.

 


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Column
By Zach Mitcham
The Madison County Journal
September 20, 2000

From the Editor's Desk

When guitar had soul
My first guitar was a reddish brown Epiphone, basically a cheap replica of the rock favorite Les Paul. My dad left it in my room one night when I was 17 and I felt like I had a year earlier when I finally had car keys in my hand. Plugging the guitar into the little Gorilla amplifier I borrowed from a friend, I felt a surge of energy as true as the electricity running through the wire. And I jumped around my room night after night, rocking like a fool - an out-of-tune fool - as my family tried to cope with an obvious purchasing error.
Apart from the liberation of being loud, another reason I liked that instrument was because it reminded me of Dickey Betts' guitar. I loved the Allman Brothers. They were from Macon and so was I. We had the hometown connection. And with my new prize, we had a guitar bond. Mine may not have been as good as Betts', but it looked kind of like his guitar. I figured establishing these similarities couldn't hurt.
Ultimately, I wanted to play like them. Shoot. Forget that, I wanted to play with them.
I was a fraction of the way there. I could mimic parts of their tunes. "Melissa" was my favorite song to play.
But after high school, I started to view some things differently. While I still liked the Allman Brothers - still do - my musical taste moved to a harder-edged sound. And my choice of guitar changed too. I had a new guitar hero, Jimi Hendrix, and I bought an American Stratocaster, hoping to copy his classic Strat sound.
There's the old myth that Robert Johnson sold his soul to the devil in order to master the blues. Some tagged that story to Hendrix too.
This is far-fetched.
But it highlights this notion: Music is powerful. Whether you like blues, gospel, rock, country, reggae, classical or polka, you probably know of someone who can give you chills with the way they sing or play an instrument. It's inexplicable how music seems to move the soul.
Hendrix does that for me.
When I see footage of the left-handed Hendrix playing a right-handed guitar upside-down, I think of Hank Aaron's unconventional cross-handed grip on the bat early in his career.
Both held the instruments in a technically flawed way - yes, instruments, because who would argue that the sweet sound of a wood bat isn't musical?
Still, their ability was unmistakable.
Hendrix is remembered by many for his flashiness, such as playing the guitar behind his back and with his teeth or setting his guitar on fire, literally.
He is also remembered as being a part of the 60s drug culture. And his death on Sept. 18, 1970, at the age of 27 of inhalation of his own vomit serves as a warning to the dangers of substance abuse.
Nevertheless, however you judge the man, Hendrix the guitarist was as close to perfect as they've come.
If Eric Clapton was the Mt. McKinley of rock and blues guitar, Hendrix was Everest.
The more I study guitar, the more I am amazed by what he did.
He never took the easy or expected route in his songwriting, putting together complex, yet fluid, structures. And while some have tried to map out his riffs on tablature for novices like me, you might as well try to explain quantum physics to a squirrel. There's just no getting it.
I love his hits - "Purple Haze," "Foxey Lady," "Voodoo Chile," "Bold as Love," "Castles Made of Sand," etc. He had plenty of them.
But his blues songs, such as "Red House" and "Hear My Train A-Comin'" deserve as much or more attention. "Red House" is a true blues anthem. And as far as I'm concerned, his electric version of "Hear my train a comin'" is the pinnacle of blues guitar.
On Thursdays I take guitar lessons in Athens. I also get together with a couple of friends and play music each week.
While the rock star dreams are gone, I still plug in my old Stratocaster most every night and try to make the sloppy licks I know come off like that man from Seattle.
It won't happen, but I know that hundreds of thousands of guitarists over the past 30 years have felt the same awkwardness in their hands, wondering how one man seemed to touch the soul with his music, while so many of the rest of us are destined to touch the last nerve.
Zach Mitcham is editor of The Madison County Journal.


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