...Virtue, morality, and religion. This is the armor, my friend, and this alone that renders us invincible. These are the tactics we should study. If we lose these, we are conquered, fallen indeed...
Patrick Henry (1736-1799) US Founding Father
My father was highly educated and a bedrock Northerner, but he said he married up, using my mother's vernacular, when he married my mother. He took in patients whether they were black or white, could pay or could not pay and it didn't matter to him if they couldn't speak the King's English or had an accent.
My mother's family came from Cumberland and Goochland county, Virginia having arrived there sometime in the 1600's. They had large land holding, were educated, as had their ancestors been when they landed at Jamestown. Whether a doctor of the law, medicine or whatever, they always listed them selves as farmers. They worked the land with their hands and upon returning from a trip across the county or abroad the first thing they did was scoop up their dirt and smell it.
Visitors to their land were welcomed, but before the business of their visitor was discussed the land was looked to. After the war, Robert E. Lee stopped by to visit, as he was trying to do with all of his officers, and after the welcome he commented that the property was in good shape. Paraphrasing my great great grandfather, the General was told that without God, the land and family there was nothing. As Lee rode away on a roan he passed lines of people holding out their hands to him. He asked why all these people were way out here in the country and they said they were helping out because my gg grandfather had helped their families before they got home and after they buried the colors and got home. He did this with half his face having been left on the battle field at Frayser's Farm courtesy of a Yankee sniper. He also did it because he knew it to be right.
Nobody was ever turned away and a neighbor in need was always looked after no matter their station, color or creed. Baptists helped Deists, Deists help Catholics and on and on. These were good people.
I received the following email from my brother-in-law, a native of Louisiana, who though I might recognize some of these people. Though they're from another state, a southern state, I did.
She and her editor gave approval to reprint the article, so I hope this helps give some recognition
to some of Alabama's unsung heroes during and after the April 27th tornado outbreak:
May 7, 2011
"I Love Me Some Rednecks"
"Most all of us around here have bourne the brunt of remarks from
people outside Lawrence County about being rednecks. Well, I'm here to tell
you right now that I love me some Lawrence County rednecks!
Rednecks have Poulan chainsaws, bulldozers, four-wheelers and big ol'
trucks - and they know how to use 'em. They aren't afraid of getting
dirty or of hard work.
As soon as the wind died down, they were the first ones out there,
clearing the roads for emergency vehicles to get to where they
needed to be. They were standing up to their knees in debris so that people
could get out of their driveways. They were checking on neighbors who
lived in the hardest hit areas where cars and normal vehicles didn't stand
If you were the victim of the storm and found your driveway
miraculously cleared, you can thank a redneck. If you have a brush pile a mile
high and you didn't do it yourself, you can thank a redneck. If someone
brought you a shirt to put on your back that day, or hauled your
furniture to a storage facility, you can probably thank a redneck.
Those good ol' boys waded through water filled with gas and glass,
nails and torn tin roofs and no telling what else to offer assistance to
people stranded in the rubble of their homes. They wore camo jackets
and John Deere caps, spit tobacco and more than likely did a little
cussing, but they got the job done, and they are the ones who are still out
there cutting up trees and burning brush long into the night, just as they
have been ever since the storms hit.
They didn't wait to be asked...they just 'got 'er done' in the true
sense of the phrase. They didn't stand around jawing and waiting for
someone else to take charge, they went to work doing what they do
best - moving earth, pushing aside massive trees with root systems as big
around as a VW, and tossing aside boards with splinters the size of
And they did all this without any thought of their own comfort or
safety. They put their scuffed cowboy boots and worn work boots on
the ground and tread across roof beams and unsteady floors to make sure
houses to mobile home and barns. They already had a flashlight
and a pocket knife with them.
They rounded up their neighbor's cattle and horses and coaxed
kittens out of trees where the wind had tossed them and they cried like
babies when they found someone's hunting dog broken and bleeding.
They waded into poultry houses and caught terrified chickens, and
tossed mountains of dead ones onto piles to burn. They began to hang tarps
and nail plywood over broken windows to save their cousins and other kin
folk's belongings. They didn't stop for hours on end, hooking chains
to cars, trees and any and everything that had landed helter-skelter as
the tornados tore through.
Rednecks just show up when there is work to be done. They drive up
and with a silent nod, they just pitch in, salvaging refrigerators and
hooking up generators. They don't care if they look cool and they
don't have to shave before they leave the house. They are tough as nails
and love their mamas fiercely. They still say 'Yes, ma'm' and 'No, sir,'
to anyone older than they are. They eat cornbread and pinto beans and
drink tea so sweet a spoon will stand straight up in the glass. They sweat
and swear and have grease under their nails sometimes. They can deliver
a calf and half an hour later be sitting in church, scrubbed to a
fare-the-well. And did they ever save the day when the thunder
rolled and the lightning flashed and the wind knocked down the houses where
they were born?
They don't do it for the glory, and wouldn't dream of taking a dime
for it, and are sometimes even offended if someone asks how much they
are owed 'cause that's what rednecks do - they drive loud trucks,
bobcats and front-end loaders, they crank cantankerous chain saws and they
know the feel of rope burns and blistered faces. They get those red necks
from the sun beating down relentlessly as they labor in the dust and
smoke from all the brush fires. They think sun-screen is for sissies
and they don't worry much about anti-bacterial soap or drink fruit-
Give me a Lawrence County redneck any day when trouble comes - when
fences get blown over and the lights go out, and there are trees and
houses strewn like matchsticks as far as the eye can see, what in
the world would we do without these rednecks?
Thanks to all of you dear rednecks, you deserve medals for what you
have done in the past few weeks. And don't think the world didn't notice,
they did. In fact, somebody is probably writing a country song about
you as you read this."
Loretta Gillespie writes for the Moulton Advertiser