There is something within us
that tells us all we will ever know about ourselves.
There is a destiny that tells us where we will be born, where we will live,
and where we will die. Some men are drawn to oceans, they cannot breathe
unless the air is scented with a salty mist. Others are drawn to land
that is flat, and the air is sullen and is leaden as August.
My people were drawn to mountains.
They came when the country was young
and they settled in the upland country of Virginia that is still misted
with a haze of blue which gives those mountains their name.
They endured and they prevailed; through flood and famine,
diphtheria and scarlet fever, through drought and forest fire,
whooping cough and loneliness, through Indian wars, a civil war, a world war,
and through the Great Depression they endured and they prevailed.
In my time, I have come to know them.
I have walked the land in the footsteps of my fathers.
Back in time to where the first one trod, and stopped, saw sky, felt wind,
bent to touch Mother Earth.....and called this "Home." This mountain.
This pine and hemlock, oak and poplar. Laurel, wild, and rhododendron.
Home and mountain. Father, mother. Grow, too the sons and daughters.
To walk the old paths. To look back in pride in honored heritage.
To hear its laughter and its song.
To grow, to stand and be themselves, one day remembered.
I have walked the land
in the footsteps of all my fathers.
I saw yesterday and now look to tomorrow."