Whether we're learning the lessons of Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park, getting a glimpse of the Tennessee River from the Riverpark or the Walnut Street Bridge, enjoying the breathtaking views from Point Park, digging through the volumes at McKay's Books, taking in a show at The Tivoli, or eating entirely too much fried chicken at Bea's Restaurant, we love Chattanooga. Chattanooga is one of the only cities in which I feel truly comfortable.
Needless to say,when I first heard the news on a Chattanooga radio station that I listen to locally, I was stunned. This wasn't some city states away that I know of but don't frequent. This was in my backyard. This was practically local. I didn't need a Google Maps search to find the location this was happening on. I'm familiar with Amnicola Highway, Old Lee Highway, Erlanger Medical Center, all of the places that were being locked down or declared scenes of horror. It wasn't home. But it might as well have been.
So here we are, on the ripples of the Charleston shooting, dealing with a terrorist attack in the Gateway of the Deep South. That has left me wondering about a response. I started ABG because I love the South in general. I can't imagine living anywhere else. And the more I've looked at our history and our culture, the more I've seen it disappearing, even coming under attack. And I don't like that. So I have this "entity" to defend and celebrate The South. So I'm here today to plead with all Southerners to defend The South in the wake of a terrorist attack.
How should react? What is our greatest defense?
We need to be Southerners.
That sounds simplistic and general, I know but I believe it is the best reaction that we could possibly muster. It would be easy to be afraid and go into some sort of shell and hide. But we are Southerners. We need to go outside. We need to swim, dance, and cook various portions of pigs slowly over a smoky fire. We are called to sing gospel, bluegrass, and the blues. We must write poems, short stories, and novels - the best in the world. We need to have festivals. Most of all, we have to look out for each other, pray for each other, and help each other. We have to show off those qualities that have made us famous - hospitality, neighborliness, and that rugged individualism in the face of danger or opposition.
Now more than ever, we need to not look toward Madison Avenue, Hollywood, or Washington D.C. to tell us how to behave, how to react, how to live our lives. We need to look to our grandparents and their grandparents. Slow down, pay attention to those around us. Love this land and our traditions and don't allow any outsiders take those from us.
Let's be Southerners. Let's pray for Chattanooga. Let's help Chattanooga.
Historian, self-proclaimed gentleman, agrarian-at-heart, & curator extraordinaire