Christmas Bells Ring On

Saturday, December 10, AD 2016

 

Something for the weekend.  One of my favorite Christmas carols has always been I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.   It is based on the poem Christmas Bells written  by poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow on Christmas Day 1863.  Still devastated by the death of his wife in a fire in 1861, he had been rocked by news that his son Charles, serving as a lieutenant in the Union army, had been severely wounded at the battle of New Hope Church in November of 1863.  In a nation rent by civil war, along with his personal woes, one could perhaps understand if Longfellow had been deaf to the joy of Christmas that year.  Instead, he wrote this magnificent poem of faith in the power of Christmas:

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August 10, 1755: The Expulsion of the Acadians Begins

Wednesday, August 10, AD 2016

 

 

The last century of horrors has tended to swallow up the memory of crimes prior to it, but the expulsion of the native French Canadiens from Acadia by the British, beginning on August 10, 1755, still stands out.  Acadia is now divided among the Candian provinces of Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.  The British acquired it by treaty from France in 1713 at the end of the War of the Spanish Succession.  The Acadians refused to take an unconditional oath to the British Crown and took a conditional oath that promised neutrality in any future wars between France and Britain.  Many Acadians violated this oath, conducting a low level guerilla war against the British when they were at war with France, a frequent occurrence in the Eighteenth Century.   British Governor Charles Lawrence began the expulsions at the onset of the French and Indian War.  The process continued until the end of the War.  Around 11,500 of the Acadians were deported, some 2600 eluding the deportations.  Until 1758 the Acadians were deported to the 13 colonies, thereafter to Britain and France.  The Acadians in the locations that received them were met with indifference and hostility, and many perished.  (I would note with ancestral pride that an exception was Maryland where Irish Catholic Marylanders met the Acadian deportees with kindness.)  Many of the Acadians eventually made their way to French Louisiana where their descendants live on as Cajuns.

The Acadian expulsions were immortalized by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow with his poem Evangeline in 1863,  its opening lines familiar to generations of American schoolchildren:

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One Response to August 10, 1755: The Expulsion of the Acadians Begins

  • I was taught that there was an actual person, Emmeline Labiche, upon whom Evangeline is based. The legend is that after finding her long lost love, and learning he had married another, she died of a broken heart. Emmeline Labiche is buried in St. Martinsville, LA, near the gorgeous moss-draped live oak called the Evangeline Oak. Longfellow spent time in Louisiana and his character in the poem so saturated the area that there is an Evangeline Parish (county), there was Evangeline bread, Evangeline nail salons, Evangeline Downs( a quarter horse race track) Evangeline dog grooming, etc., etc.

    Given their sad, sad history, it is a wonder that the cajuns are the happy, loving people they are, full of joie de give. Nobody knows better than they how to “pass a good time.” Laissez les bon temps roulez!

April 19, 1775: The Shot Heard Round the World

Saturday, April 19, AD 2014

“By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood,
And fired the shot heard round the world.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

 

 

“Sheriff Taylor” reminds us in the above video clip that it is not an iron rule of nature that History must be taught in such a fashion to ensure the destruction of whatever love of it may exist in students.

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2 Responses to April 19, 1775: The Shot Heard Round the World

Christmas Bells

Saturday, December 14, AD 2013

Something for the weekend.  One of my favorite Christmas carols has always been I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.   It is based on the poem Christmas Bells written  by poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow on Christmas Day 1863.  Still devastated by the death of his wife in a fire in 1861, he had been rocked by news that his son Charles, serving as a lieutenant in the Union army, had been severely wounded at the battle of New Hope Church in November of 1863.  In a nation rent by civil war, along with his personal woes, one could perhaps understand if Longfellow had been deaf to the joy of Christmas that year.   Having suffered a grave personal loss this year, the death of my son Larry on May 19, I can attest that the message of salvation and eternal life that Christmas brings has a special meaning to me this year.

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4 Responses to Christmas Bells

  • My condolences on the death of your son Larry.

  • Thank you icefalcon. I am consoled that he died on Pentecost. Because of his autism Larry was unable to carry on normal conversations much beyond yes or no. The tongues of fire of Pentecost I think was God’s way of indicating that he would now speak clearly in Heaven. My mother died on Easter Sunday 1984 and my father in law died on Palm Sunday 1997.

  • Donald,

    I too wish to express m condolences and pledge of my prayers in these days leading up to our Christmas Feast. Platitudes you need not, but I do believe it is safe to say that you have a saint in your son Larry who is now praying for you and your family. May you experience the consolation of the Lord and the peace that surpasses all understanding this Christmas Festival.

  • Thank you Botolph. I sometimes feel Larry’s presence, the first time at his funeral when I felt the oddest wave of happiness and peace pass over me. I believe he has interceded for me and my family. Larry was a good son in life, and he remains a good son in death. I miss him each moment.