by Rick Reed
March 8, 2017
This essay by Rick Reed, a cousin of mine from Columbus, Indiana, was originally published in the Floyd County, Kentucky Genealogy Facebook group. Rick and I share family roots in Floyd County of southeast Kentucky and have a number ancestors in common who once lived there and in nearby Virginia.
Rick has demonstrated his deep concern for preserving our heritage through involvement in the restoration of historical landmarks. In recent years, he has devoted much time to organizing and leading efforts aimed at cleaning neglected cemeteries as well as identifying grave locations and supplying new markers for them.
The cry of history keeps coming.
As we age we see the things we grew up with disappearing. Homes that could still be used are abandoned because new is considered better. Stone homes torn down for farm land, barns that have no use any longer rotting away with old growth lumber in them that can still be used, but what if we open our eyes.
Log cabins sitting empty because they are small, hold the heat with low ceilings. They can be reused and rebuilt.
But what do we know? People in Europe live in homes several hundred years old. They seem to be just fine in those old homes with a history and life still to come.
What do they know that we don’t?
In America we toss things away and still want new, thinking it’s a better way to live. Is it?
What do we gain as we lose the history of the old home place, pictures of people we never knew and those we do not know as they stare back at us from the past?
We don’t take the time to write names down on the back of a photo and then forget who it is and then we toss it like it’s nothing. Is that what we are?
We let family grave yards disappear in the weeds and trees without a thought to clean them up once a year. Why? Because we don’t know those people? Did they not teach us anything about respect?
They did and we chose to toss it.
When we are gone we will not care if we aren’t remembered. The living have places to be and things to do. But as they age they will start to remember too. Things long gone that gave them the pleasure of fishing, baking, quilting, building and growing things, a person, a place.
The living will wish they paid attention and kept things from their past. Maybe ask why they didn’t do something for the future generation.
Trees hundreds of years old are mostly gone and the few left are prized for their size or wood. Maybe the space they grow on is ripe for a new home or business.
Only because we want.
Only because that empty lot next door isn’t where this tree or old home stands now.
We destroy the old for new that lasts half the time.
Not only have we lost these type memories we are losing family units as we spread our wings across the world.
We move to new places and create new memories, but nothing replaces the old memories and places we walked long ago. A dirt path, gravel road and up a mountain side to look over to an old homestead.
While other countries continue enjoying their history we continue on to losing what made us great. Our past! Why maybe because it’s out of the way, too far to get to, not close enough to the store.
They don’t make land anymore and the trees take longer to grow, old homes have character and warmth to feel and to look at and touch.
But what do we know? Memories is all we have now.