Madison County Opinion...

JULY 2, 2003


Column
By Frank Gillespie
The Madison County Journal
July 2, 2003

Frankly Speaking
What the Declaration of Independence actually says
Most of you know that our 4th of July holiday celebrates the adoption of the American Declaration of Independence. But how many of you know what that important document actually says?
I conducted an informal survey among people I meet in my daily activities, and found that many of you have no idea why the Declaration was written, what impact it had on our history or to what extent it is accepted as a founding document of our nation. A few of you can remember reading it in high school, but haven’t bothered to read it since.
You can recognize a couple of incomplete quotes from the Declaration, but have little understanding of their meaning.
You know that it says that “All men are created equal,” and that it proclaims the rights of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” But few of you are aware that those rights are not granted by government, but are “endowed by our Creator.” That’s right! The freedoms we so cherish are granted by that same God that we have banished from our classrooms.
Another mistake I heard repeatedly was that the Declaration said that the United States should be a free and independent nation. Every sentence in the Declaration used the plural form. “….That these United Colonies are, are and of Right, ought to be Free and Independent States.”
It continues: “…As Free and Independent States, they have full power to levy War, Conclude Peace, Contract Alliances, establish Commerce and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do.”
The founders of this nation never intended the federal establishment to be the primary governing force. They designed a system that kept the power to govern the population at the state level. The federal government was intended to be an umbrella organization that provides for the common defense, a common currency and to regulate commerce between the states.
Finally, the Declaration proclaims the right of the people to throw off any oppressive government and “…to institute New Government, laying its foundations on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”
To many of us in the South, and elsewhere, the federal government has become so large and so powerful that it is now highly destructive of our individual liberty, The Declaration of Independence declares that we, the people, have the right to force changes that will push the federal government back within the boundaries set by the Constitution and the Bill of rights.
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.

Column
By Margie Richards
The Madison County Journal
July 2, 2003

A Moment With Margie
‘Day-tripping’ with the girls
Long summer days are the perfect time to engage in a favorite American pastime - the road trip, also known as "day-tripping," if you don't plan to stay overnight.
Recently, two of my favorite co-horts, Shirley and Virginia, and I set out on one of these jaunts. For this trip (or adventure as it usually turns into when the three of us get together) we set our sights on Abbeville, SC, about a 60 mile drive from Danielsville. It was supposed to be about a half-day trip, but as usual, we got kind of lost a few times, as well as distracted, so the trip ended up lasting the whole day.
In Elberton we decided to take a slight detour to go in search of the Georgia Guidestones, a landmark I have previously written about, but which neither of the three of us had ever seen.
They turned out to be easy to find, even for us.
The guidestones are located about eight miles east of Elberton on Hwy. 77 where they stand high on a hill to the right in a cow pasture. A green marker points to the paved side road leading to the granite structure, and parking allows you to drive almost up to the site.
No one knows who financed the design of the these massive granite slabs, which were erected in 1979. On them is inscribed a message for mankind written in eight different languages.
After taking a few moments to pay homage, we got back on course. Back in Elberton again, we turned onto GA Hwy. 72, which as you cross the Savannah River into South Carolina turns into SC 72.
After crossing the line, we soon came into the little town of Calhoun Falls (we couldn't find a falls anywhere, although we looked) and from there it was a nice country ride into Abbeville.
Abbeville is a pretty little southern town, centered around a quaint town square with brick streets. An elegant old time "opera house" stands next to the old courthouse on one side, while regular business offices in renovated buildings stand shoulder to shoulder with antique shops and a bevy of small cafes and restaurants.
After we walked most of the main square we turned a corner and there at the end of a sloping street was the 'find' of the day - a gracious old brick and stone church, Trinity Episcopal, standing with its elegant spire pointed heavenward.
Built in 1859, this Gothic Revival church was designed by George Walker of Columbia, SC and is the oldest church building in Abbeville. The church's congregation was established in 1842 and originally worshipped in a frame building on the same site.
We were excited to find the wrought iron gate unlocked and crossed the wooden walk way to open its front doors into another world.
The first thing you see is the towering stained glass window with an image of Christ that dominates the wall behind the pulpit. To add to the beauty, a parishioner began playing beautiful old hymns on a rare old organ on one side of the vestibule, while chimes from floor to ceiling behind the choir resonated the melody all around the sanctuary.
More, smaller stained glass windows flanked each side of the church and large marble plaques were placed all along the walls and between the windows, all in memory of various church members. Most carried dates prior to 1900.
From the program we learned that church services are still held every Sunday.
A side door led us to the church yard, which consists of huge old magnolias and oaks most likely as old as the church itself and ivy-lined paths lead from one shaded area to another.
After further investigation of the antique and other shops, we drove the perimeter of the town, visiting more old churches and Secession Hill, the place where, under a large stand of old oaks, resolutions were adopted in support of the secession of South Carolina from the Union on Nov. 22, 1860.
We also spent some time riding by all the lovely old homes there - with me trying all the while to decide just which home it was that was used as Julia Robert's residence in the early 1990's movie "Sleeping With the Enemy."
From there we took a 14 mile detour to Greenwood where we ate at one of our beloved Cracker Barrels before returning by a different route to Abbeville through the little town of Due West, whose claim to fame is the wonderful little college of Erskine.
After taking another detour or two (one time to try again to find a waterfall in Calhoun Falls), we ended up back in Elberton where we temporarily veered off the path home to view the statues on the square and ride by the old courthouse.
That done, we decided a ride through Royston was necessary to answer the burning question of just what new restaurant is replacing the Hardees there.
All our curiosities of the moment satisfied, we happily finished our "day trip" just before dark.
And, of course, we're already busy planning our next excursion.
Margie Richards is a reporter and office manager for the Madison County Journal.

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