Remembering the waymakers lays foundation for future

Published 12:53 pm Thursday, August 17, 2023

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An Editorial Opinion of The Lowndes Signal

Memorials take many shapes and sizes – a marker, a service, a silent moment of reflection – meant to keep alive the memory of the people who paved the way for others and the places where critical steps in the journey took place.

The Butler County Historical Society has received a grant made possible through the Fort Dale Chapter of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution to place a historical marker honoring the county’s Native American heritage.

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The marker will be located on U.S. Highway 31 in Chapman, between Greenville and Georgiana near where an earlier marker placed in January 1953 once stood. The effort is part of a project to replace the last of six markers which deteriorated over time, were destroyed by traffic, or were stolen.

One of those markers memorializes Fort Dale, the county’s first seat, post office and voting site as well as the first church and school in Butler County. It is a testimony to the values around which Greenville was founded.

Some may question why communities would go to such effort. Simply put, a community’s foundation rises from its past.

On Aug. 12, Lowndes County hosted the 26th annual Jonathan Daniels pilgrimage, to honor the memory of a white Episcopal seminarian from Keene, New Hampshire who was arrested, shot, and killed in 1965 for his involvement with protests of white-only businesses in Fort Deposit.

Daniels came to Alabama with a calling to serve God. After watching a televised appeal from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Daniels traveled to Selma to help in efforts to secure the right to vote for all Alabama citizens.

The pilgrimage keeps alive the memory of Daniel and others who were martyred in Alabama. Pilgrims gather from around the nation and across the lines which still separate people by race, religion, or political affiliation to further the cause of unity in Alabama.

Recently Crenshaw County celebrated the dedication of a historical marker for a school long since closed. A dedication ceremony paid homage to the pivotal role the Crenshaw County Training School and Woodford Avenue High School played in educating children of the county’s African American community.

The school closed in 1970, no longer needed thanks to the work of desegregation. But graduates still remember the fun times and learning which happened there as well as the times that necessitated a school where Black children could learn, “separate but equal.”

Memorials ensure future generations move forward from the past, leaving their world better than they found it.

In the words of Winston Churchill, “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” May we continue to remember the past, so that we can continue the good work of waymakers who laid the foundation on which we stand.