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This is this is the 10th and final in a series of literacy enhancement articles that appear biweekly in The Sentinel-News.
The weather was perfect for the Civil War reenactment. The Barkstreet Band was introduced, and we took the stage. I played drums, Bark played lead guitar, Brutus played bass, and Otis played acoustic. Five weeks ago we thought we'd have to disband when Bark came to the house and said our lead singer had developed kennel cough, but thanks to Chloe, the show would go on.
We opened with “Dixie” and followed with “The Yellow Rose of Texas,” both songs of the Confederacy. Chloe sounded beautiful. Her voice rang – especially on “The Yellow Rose.” Since Chloe was born in Texas, that song was a favorite. Keep tempo on beats two and four, I remembered from my drum lessons.
During my library job I discovered 34 states that were once united became divided. Kentucky remained neutral but was important in the war. Jefferson Davis, a Kentuckian, was president of the Confederacy while Abraham Lincoln, also a Kentuckian, was president of the Union, also called the United States. During the 4-year course of the war, Kentucky was the site of several battles – the Battle of Perryville being the largest.
I realized people who lived in the same country, state, neighborhood and even the same house could have differing viewpoints. "Remember," Dad said, "we don't have to agree, but we must be respectful. Before we make decisions, we must gather the facts. If we're in a conflict and we're justified, we don't gloat. If we're wrong, we apologize. Sometimes we can be a doghouse divided."
In the case of the Civil War, Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered to Union Leader Ulysses S. Grant (no relation to our librarian Mrs. Grant) on April 9, 1865, in Virginia. Five days later, President Lincoln was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth at Ford's Theatre while attending a play. At 56, he'd just begun his second term as 16th president.
"The Barkstreet Band is going to take ten," Bark said as I climbed out of the drum cage. "Please focus your attention on 'The Gettysburg Address.'"
Everyone listened to the speech President Lincoln had given on Nov. 19, 1863, in Gettysburg, Pa., just months after the Union armies defeated the Confederacy at the Battle of Gettysburg.
"Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth upon this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal…."
"Dad, please explain in wiener dog terms," I said when the speech concluded.
Dad chuckled. "That two-minute speech was one of the greatest in history. President Lincoln said the Civil War would bring freedom, would make everyone equal and make the United States stronger – one nation, not divided by states' rights."
"What a great president," I replied about my fellow Kentuckian! We were about to grab a corn on the cob and fizzy drink when we heard, "How are my favorite employees?"
"Mrs. Grant!" Chloe and I cheered.
"Congratulations! The library's 'Brother Against Brother' room is fantastic."
"Thanks. We appreciated our paychecks," Chloe added.
"You deserved every penny," Mrs. Grant replied.
"I was able to repair the window and have enough left for drum lessons," I informed her.
"Super," Mrs. Grant beamed. "Did you recover your stolen drums?"
Mom smiled and spoke. "When Woody informed us his drums were from the Civil War, his dad and I had taken them to a Civil War historian to verify the information, and that's when Woody thought they'd been stolen."
"Awesome! Were they used by the North or South?" Mrs. Grant eagerly asked.
"Well," I answered. "It turns out they weren't from the Civil War at all. The historian found the date on the drums indicating they'd been made in 1961, 100 years after the Civil War began."
Everyone laughed before I continued. "Chloe kept saying Mr. Martin said the drums would cause a civil war, not from the Civil War, but I jumped to conclusions before gathering the facts."
Bark took the stage again, indicating it was time for our second set. I grabbed my drumsticks while Chloe took the microphone. We opened with one of my favorites – “Goober Peas.” Before doing our research, I didn't know the Confederates sang that song to pass time and sometimes ate a lot of peas. As the song came to a close, it was my time to shine. I performed a long drum roll. The crowd went wild. At the end of the drum roll, I threw my sticks in the air!
And this time, I caught them!
To hear each chapter read and try the chapter activities, visit www.kypress.com.