ANDERSONVILLE, Georgia -- The second 2019 musical trip taken by two members of the late Bob McMillan’s “Dixie Dozen,” a 1967-68 subset of the Enterprise High School Marching Band he directed (1958-73), quickly followed visiting musical venues in Memphis, Tennessee, by exploring musical and other historic sites in Columbus, Warm Springs, Americus, Plains and other spots in west central Georgia.
Plans called for visiting two Columbus cemeteries, one holding remains of Gertrude Pridgett, born, died and buried in Columbus, better known as Ma Rainey, “Queen of the Blues,” the first great blues artist to record her music.
The other grave holds remains of Lucy Frances “Dimples” Wingate Tibbets, who, from 1938-55, was married to Paul Tibbets, “Enola Gay” pilot whose B-29 Superfortress crew’s famous mission dropped the first atomic bomb, “Little Boy,” on Hiroshima, hastening the end of World War II.
If you’ve seen 1952’s “Above and Beyond,” the story of the A-bomb mission, “Dimples,” portrayed by Eleanor Parker, wasn’t a patriotic wife; we decided to skip her altogether.
We took the old backroad from Eufaula to Phenix City/Columbus to visit Fort Mitchell National Cemetery, a most reverent place of honor for military veterans and spouses, the day before a 7.5-hour-stay inside the National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center near Fort Benning.
We studied displays featuring Sgt. Alvin York, Audie Murphy, other Congressional Medal of Honor recipients and infantry personnel who’ve served this country since the 1770’s.
Later in our trek, we visited the Charles A. Lindbergh statue, at Jimmy Carter Regional Airport, where Lindy first flew a plane, near Americus, boyhood home of the late Joe Logan.
We stayed in the haunted Windsor Hotel the night before visiting Camp Sumter, aka Andersonville Civil War Prison, where some 45,000 Union soldiers were imprisoned, and the National Cemetery where 13,000 were entombed.
Occupying part of Andersonville’s grounds is the National Prisoner of War Museum, where stands a display honoring Rhonda Cornum, U.S. Army Brigadier General (ret.), a flight surgeon, trained at Fort Rucker, later a prisoner in the Persian Gulf War eight days during which she endured two broken arms and a broken finger, was shot in the back, raped and beaten.
Cornum is one of more than 142,000 American prisoners of war since World War I.
Also noteworthy, since 1775, more than 1,498,240 U.S. war deaths have been counted, with the War Between the States accounting for 750,000 (est.), or 520 per day.
In WWII, this country lost an estimated 405,399 military personnel, some 297 daily.
Staggering numbers to ponder, like those mass murderers are compiling.
Time ran out before we visited Thomaston, boyhood home of Wayne Cochran, “The White Knight of Soul.”
We got home the day before the tragic massacres in El Paso and Dayton, where 20 and nine, respectively, innocent folks were gunned down in seconds.
Members of the media, politicians and other concerned Americans, as always, immediately shouted for stricter gun laws.
Some bore-hog critics, as always, have blamed such heinous violence on local officials, not Nostradamus or Jean Dixon, who missed signs the abominable shooters were to forever become infamous.
Your scribe has tried remembering a grave in Fort Mitchell and Andersonville, both active cemeteries, embracing a veteran who died so blameless Americans can be shot down in our public places.