Saturday, October 1, 2011

Remembering the Dead

Ezekial Stephens lived between 1793 and 1872. In 1812, he fought in the war of 1812, as a private of the Tennessee militia. Years later, the children would run up to his porch, and be enraptured by his endless tales of the war, many of which he did not have to exaggerate for dramatic effect. The children would then promise they would never forget him, and then proceeded to spread the news of the man. He was a local legend, some say he charged in at the head of the cavalry, though close friends of his would tell you differently.
I found this man at Garrett Cemetery, formerly known as Old Holly Springs Baptist Cemetery, in Cobb, Georgia. It was between a Shell gas station and a salon. The church that was once attached to it is long since disappeared, most likely the salon possessed it. God's acre itself was only identifiable by a wrought-iron gate. I would've never known about it, if my father hadn't pointed it out while we were walking by it. A thick cloud of shrubbery and trees hides it from the public eye, and, despite the exorbitant amount of traffic going by on highway 92, the air inside the eternal home was cold and silent. The sky was bright blue above, yet everything seemed muted.
I stood at the entrance, feeling as If I had intruded upon a symphony, or a meeting in which everyone present was raptly at attention; I felt forty-two stares. I couldn't say anything, for fear of disturbing the marble markers more than I already have. There were two boxed in sets of graves, with “GARRETT” and “FOUTS” on them. The Stephens were arrayed on the opposite side of the acre-sized grave site. One tombstone, almost ten feet from the entrance, was unintelligible.
Ezekial is simply one of forty-two internments at this cemetery. Each one of these people had a rich history; I put Ezekial's name, and my description above of the man is directly referenced from
How many people are forgotten within a hundred years of their death? I would have never brought the memory of those forty-two back to the light had it not been for a comment from my father. Do not try to be remembered in this life; It is a futile attempt. Only a few select people may be remembered for eternity: Jesus, Plato, Newton, Aristotle... Even Shakespeare is slowly dying, the light of his glorious penmanship weeping for lack of someone reading it.
So, I challenge you not to work for remembrance in this world; even a million years of your place in history is nothing in the annals of time. If you work for the achievement of those million years, then what have you truly gained? Sure, you'd be respected, you'd be remembered. For one million years, people would say, “What would you do?” You would be a faux god in people's eyes. But what would you have lost in your reach for those million years of remembrance?
As I typed this prior paragraph, I realized that I am describing Jesus' impact. He will be remembered, hopefully for much more than a million years. Though, does this mean he spent too much time trying? I believe he did. Though, since he really was (or, for the Atheists in the crowd, “believed he was”) God, I think he's justified.
Rather, work for making other people be remembered for millions of years. Ezekial Stephens may not be remembered, though he helped Andrew Jackson defeat the hostile Creek Indian tribe, which allowed Jackson to go to New Orleans to repel the British from the city.
Plato and Aristotle both had some inspirational person they refer to. George Washington, also. Truett Cathy cites his father as the source of his perseverance. Every major cultural icon, people who will be remembered for a million years, will remember one or two people as the people who helped them to the heights of history. I aim to, and I challenge you to try. Because if you're the one person the man with a million-year legacy remembers, Then you've been remembered for more years than he has. For, when you commit a man to memory, you also recognize the people who brought him up to memorable mention. You also find life much easier to cope with, free from the desires of the world. The Bible is full of wise words, and one verse demands representation here. I will close with this verse:
"So the last will be first, and the first will be last." -Mat. 20:16

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