Sam Burnham, Curator
Korea has been in the news a lot lately. I shared a photo from this weekend over on our Instagram account. A visit to the Korean War Memorial in Washington gave me a face-to-face encounter that I can’t get out of my mind.
The memorial is truly poignant. The 19 men represented stand in their heavy gear to brace them against the harsh weather. They are all alert, they are looking around for any hint of danger. Then I saw him.
These are the kinds of statues that follow you with their eyes. This one statue caught my attention. I thought he might speak. In a way I wished he would. I knew I was looking at an inanimate metal object but in that moment the artist’s goal was achieved. I connected. I wasn’t looking at a piece of metal, I was face to face with a 19 year old who was thousands of miles from home and scared of what the next moment had in store for him. He was tired, cold, and homesick. But he was also vigilant and brave. The fear and bitter cold weren’t keeping him from his duty.
In that hat moment I wished he’d unload some of it. I wished he’d tell me what he was thinking, what his hopes were, how scared and tired he was, how bad he wanted to get out.
At the same time there was the feeling, the realization that one thing he would say is that we need to make that moment worth it. We need to live free, support freedom at home, demand our rights as Americans because of Americans like him who went far from home to defend those freedoms.
But most of all, the message that was reinforced in me is that if we are going to send our kids where this man had gone, be it in Europe, Asia, Africa, wherever, it had better be for the cause of liberty. It had better be justified. We had better be prepared to support them when they come home, to deal with the task we sent them to do.
And that needs to be in all of our minds any time we talk about war. Look into this face. Catch that glance. Know where you’re sending him. He’ll go. That’s what he does. Let’s not send him flippantly.
It’s unlikely for an interstate to make a great drives listing but there are exceptions to every rule. For over 300 miles, I-81 carries sightseers, intentional and otherwise, through Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley.
The valley is a work bucolic art, painted across the landscape with a pigment of agrarianism and the brush of time. Farms, complete with barns and silos dot the rolling hills as the picturesque ridge lines frame in the valley in the distance.
The highway seems to have been placed with the economy of space in mind. Rather than the typical interstate, 81 is situated on just enough property. It is slid in among the homesteads without taking more land than is needed. Not one unneeded foot is designated for right of way or even a rest area
Along the road you’ll find storied Southern locales:
Bristol: “The Birthplace of Country Music” and the home of the famous NASCAR short track.
Natural Bridge: Breathtaking natural geological formation so impressive that when Thomas Jefferson saw it, he decided to buy it.
Lexington: Robert E. Lee and “Stonewall” Jackson are both buried in this town. It is Home to their respective instructional charges: Washington & Lee University and The Virginia Military Institute. Even if you don’t visit the generals, this is one of the most beautiful towns in The South.
Blacksburg: Home of The Virginia Tech Hokies.
That’s just scratching the surface. There too many towns, local attractions, and stories to mention. It’s not you average interstate drive.
By Sam Burnham
We spent the week leading up to Thanksgiving in the Charleston area. It was a typical Iron Skillet Travels style getaway. Our base of operations this time was too notable to not get it's own special post. Oh it wasn't a luxurious spa, a stately plantation mansion, or a re-purposed cotton mill. No this one is quite special in its own way.
The managing editor found this little gem on Airbnb. It is located in the Shem Creek area of Mt. Pleasant. It is a recently renovated duplex and we we're staying in one side. The other side appears to still be in the renovation process but there was not a single minute that any work there disturbed our quiet or relaxation. The neighborhood is in a bit of a transition with most of the homes either recently renovated or in the process. The work seems to be following a traditional theme. It is tasteful and lovely. The "main drag" through that part of town features local business and restaurants. It is probably much busier during the summer season but it was a The location is very convenient to downtown Charleston, Sullivan's Island, and Isle of Palms.
The home itself holds a simple beauty. The decor is not overblown or obnoxious as you might find in many vacation homes. While the home is not huge, it was plenty big enough for our tight-knit group of five.
In the living area there is cozy furniture and ample lamplight for an evening read. The window shades allow for a view of outside or privacy. There is a large television which we used to catch most of the Georgia game. But most of the time there was spent reading, planning, or relaxing.
The bath is small, as is the entire unit. But the use of a shower is a good optimization of space. You see shelving and a sink with vanity. Plush towels and tasteful decor are definitely a nice touch. Again, small and simple but adequate and realistic.
The bottom sash of the window is frosted to offer privacy. But the window can also be opened to allow the fresh fall air to come if on a November evening.
The outdoor areas offer a bit of home away from home. There is a small but adequate backyard where the boys got to enjoy some fresh air and at least one time throwing a ball around. I already mentioned the picnic table on the patio which we dined at a few times. There is a charcoal grill as well. On Saturday evening you could hear others along the street enjoying grilling and games - nothing bothersome or out of the way, just a friendly and festive neighborhood atmosphere. That seemed to enhance the backyard that evening.
The front yard is dominated by an oak tree surrounded by a mulched area. It is a welcome sight after a long day of touring the area. The front porch is screened in and offers some lovely vintage seating. It's a great spot of an evening of porch sitting.
Overall, it is a beautiful stop. We loved the simplicity, the comfort, even the closeness of it all was nice for a family holiday outing. This is an excellent choice for a small family or perhaps a couple. Comfortable and convenient.
Historian, self-proclaimed gentleman, agrarian-at-heart, & curator extraordinaire