Checking in from Clayton Village, MS …
In between two walks totaling 21 miles on Thursday, April 26, Brenda and I toured the historic town of Columbus, Mississippi. The downtown is thriving and has a neat, old timey look. We were directed to the Friendship Cemetery on the south side of Columbus. This huge, old cemetery has some of the most interesting and unique tombstones that I have ever seen. Rivals some from Savannah and Charleston. “The Weeping Angel” is a good example. When a popular preacher died some years back, it is claimed that even this stone edifice shed tears. Veterans from every war from the Revolution through Vietnam are interred at Friendship Cemetery as are two Mississippi governors, three congressmen, a US Secretary of War, two Confederate congressmen, five Confederate generals and four college presidents.
The real claim to fame for Friendship Cemetery, however, is the fact that Memorial Day was started on this very site. In April, 1866, the ladies and school children of Columbus wanted to observe “Decoration Day” when flowers would be placed on the graves of 2,194 Confederate soldiers and one Confederate nurse. It was noted that the cemetery also held the graves of 54 Union soldiers. In an act of healing for the South, these Union graves also received flowers as a “memorial” to soldiers from either side lost in battle. Decoration Day became a tradition that was picked up by other cities, was renamed Memorial Day and became a national holiday early in the 20th century, observed on the last Monday in May to honor any American lost in war.
Columbus, MS is also the boyhood home of playwright Thomas Lanier “Tennessee” Williams. Many consider him to be America’s leading playwright with two Pulitzer Prizes and a list of works that includes “The Glass Menagerie”, “A Streetcar Named Desire”, “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof”, “Sweet Bird of Youth” and “The Night of the Iguana.” Williams’ first home, which was also the rectory of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, where his grandfather was rector. The gingerbread Victorian home has been meticulously restored including the vivid paint scheme of the period and now serves as a monument to Tennessee Williams and a welcome center for the town of Columbus. We enjoyed our visit to the home and appreciate the history as detailed by our hostess, Ms. Virginia Thomas. Columbus was one of our favorite stops.
On Friday, we move on to Starkville and Mississippi State University. Here is our projected schedule:
Friday, April 27 … in Starkville
Saturday, April 28 … thru Adaton, and Mathison to Eupora, MS
Sunday, April 29 … thru Grady and Stewart to Kilmichael, MS