Saturday, April 17, 2004

Well, this might be worth a visit if we make it to South Carolina this summer and could view what The Saluda County Historical Society has accomplished.

(Saluda is west of Columbia, although I've never been there.)

In a state that has long embraced lost causes like the Civil War, Saluda County has a special fondness for one that happened 1,000 miles away.

The county, nestled in the pine forests and rolling farmland of western South Carolina, bills itself as "The Birthplace of Alamo Heroes." It reveres native sons William Barret Travis and James Butler Bonham, who died along with roughly 180 others defending the former Spanish mission to the death in 1836 in the fight for independence for Texas.

And long before the latest movie of "The Alamo," local historians have been telling and retelling how Travis unloaded both barrels of his shotgun as he took a ball to the forehead and how Bonham sneaked through Mexican lines at least twice with letters asking for reinforcements.

"It's a great story about two dashing, young, idealistic men," said Saluda County Historical Society Executive Director Bela Herlong.

They've been proud for a long time. In 1947, a monument was dedicated on the courthouse lawn remembering the pair as "comrades in arms" who "perished together in battle."

Want to know where most historians think Travis was standing when he died? Just check out the diorama, which took six months to build and was dedicated in 2003 on the 167th anniversary of the battle. It takes up a good portion of the rear of the county museum.

Nearly half the museum is dedicated to Alamo memorabilia, including copies of Travis' famous letter to "The People of Texas & All Americans in the World," which the young man signs "Victory or Death!"

The historical society also has spent thousands of dollars saving Bonham's birth home, built in 1779.

"The Texans love us," Herlong said. "Of course, they love anything about the Alamo."

Although the county's signs call it the birthplace of Alamo heroes, the unofficial motto passed around members of the society is "Where Texas began."

Our kind of folks, in England:

Villagers formed a human chain to pass out books from a priceless collection after a fire at a manor owned by Lord and Lady Wardington yesterday.

Fifty residents from the Oxfordshire village of Wardington working with more than 100 firemen, managed to save 90 per cent of the rare books.

Lord and Lady Wardington were away on holiday when John Downs, a postman, saw a fire at their 17th century manor yesterday morning.

Their daughter, who was at home at the time, rallied support from villagers to save the library. Oxfordshire fire service sent 15 crews to the scene.

Colin Thomas, the incident commander, said: "The daughter alerted everyone else who was in the house including the butler's property, staff quarters and other independent occupants who live there. Large numbers of villagers, supervised by fire and rescue staff, managed to remove the majority of a valuable and historic library and also a large proportion of the furniture and antiques.

"Around 50 villagers formed a human chain from the library to remove all of the books. It was a remarkable sight and villagers showed immense English spirit." He said the fire damaged about half of the house, causing much of the roof to collapse and an estimated £1 million damage.

Lord and Lady Wardington, who were on a cruise on the Rhine in Germany yesterday, have strong literary connections. Lady Wardington has written a series of books called Superhints, collections of tips on subjects such as cookery, gardening, fashion, beauty and DIY, and Lord Wardington is a former chairman of the Friends of the British Library. The cause of the fire is being investigated.

Sunday, April 11, 2004

The Rev. Donald Sensing in Tennessee gave a wonderful Easter sermon today.

His conclusion:

So what is the cosmic wisdom of Easter, really? Only this: the Creator of the cosmos, the sustainer of the cosmos, the redeemer of the cosmos - the God of the universe - loves you. He loved you and me so much that he gave his only son to put on our mortal body and suffer our mortal fate to restore us to God.

What did you expect your God to do?

Christ has died. Christ is risen! "If you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord," say the Scriptures, "and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." Anyone who believes in him will never perish, but have eternal life. Thanks be to God.

Read the whole thing.