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Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Shelby Foote - RIP

Being born and raised in the South and moving from Louisiana to North Carolina, Oklahoma, Virginia and Kentucky (border state) and finally settling in Florida I have had the honor of never living above the Mason Dixon for any period greater than three weeks in my life. Thank God! Which means, all my Mom-N-Nem is from the South going all way back to farm country in Mississippi before the War of Northern Aggression.

My Grandfather’s vision of the South was not that different from John C Calhoun’s – death by stoning and the extension of slavery to anyone who did not own land – white or black! He didn’t care what color your skin was, you had to have a job, be it digging ditches or being a judge. Work hard, love your God, stay sober and be a man!

This is what the writings of Shelby Foote, to me, were all about – being a man! Being resolute in your opinions, having courage to face the fire of your conviction against all detractors, bowing before the almighty Father for his divine intercession are the threads that Shelby Foote wove into every story. What Shelby Foote leaves for generations to come is what I took away from reading his three novel account of the Civil War – the struggle of ideas may be cause enough to take up arms, but glory is fleeting no matter what side prevails.

Shelby Foote also represented for me the spirit of the South that seems to ever more be replaced with cultural relativism. There is a great quote that can be attributed to Shelby Foote: "I never enjoyed the company of tourists," “I do not go where they go, and I do not want them coming where I am." Since I live in Florida, no truer words have been spoken. It’s hard for me to think of the part of Florida where I live like the small towns in KY, NC and LA that seem to shun and shield themselves from the locust-tourists that visit my state season after season. There are parts of FL that do have the feeling that Shelby Foote describes as the ‘sameness of smallness’ that his TN and MS represent. Unfortunately, I live far from towns like that in FL. But having had the honor of growing up in the South, I can carry those feelings and experiences with me no matter where I live.

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