Saturday the kids and I drove up to our state capitol in Nashville for a Cherry Blossom Festival. We had a good time. My son learned how to make an origami throwing star, we watch some martial arts demonstrations, and we ate too much. I also learned about taro when I bought a strange white and lavender muffin. (It is kind of like a potato.)
We left the festival around 3pm and were on our way home when we decided to change direction. It was our first trip to Nashville and even though we had a three-hour car ride to look forward to, it seemed a shame not to explore just a little more. That was how we went from celebrating Japanese culture to exploring Ancient Greece. (Well, sort of.)
In 1897 Nashville held an Exposition to celebrate Tennessee’s 100th anniversary as a state. For six months crowds flocked to hear speeches, play games, and watch parades. They also came to see a massive replica of the Parthenon in Athens, Greece. Sadly, that replica was built of plaster and did not withstand time. By 1920 the structure was crumbling.
However, the city of Nashville decided not to let the fascinating building die. Instead, the created a complete replica, inside and out, of the Greek temple using more permanent materials. While the Parthenon in Nashville isn’t made of marble, it was built to the same dimensions and inspires a similar sense of awe.
It is home to a statue of the goddess Athena that stands over 42 feet, with a smaller 6-foot representation of the goddess Nike settled on her hand. (The original statue this one was model after has been lost to time and greed.) Standing at her feet it is nearly impossible not to stare up at the intimidating goddess and imagine her taking a step off of her carved pedestal.
The Parthenon also houses art exhibits on its lower levels, as well as a historical exhibit detailing its creation. The Cherry Blossom festival was fun. The Parthenon was fascinating. We all slept well once we reached home.
On Monday I said I would update my blog later in the week. This is not the update I planned on. Thursday morning at 10:45, I was encouraging my son to get his shoes on because we had errands to run. Thirty minutes to the South, a man in a silver convertible was firing shots and killing people.
Yesterday in Chattanooga a 24 year old man, named Mohammad Youssuf Abdulazeez, killed four Marines and injured three others in what is being called an act domestic terror. This young man grew up in Chattanooga. He went to school in Chattanooga from primary school through University. He graduated from the University of Tennessee in Chattanooga just three years ago with a degree in electrical engineering.
My errands kept me local but this is still right in my back yard. As I was buckling my son’s seat belt, this man was driving down the road in his ford mustang and firing shots into a recruitment center. As I was waiting for a red light to change and laughing at something my son said, four United States Marines lost their lives at the Naval Reserve Center.
Right now a Marine Recruiter has a bullet wound in his leg while four of his brothers lie in body bags. A Chattanooga Police officer is recovering from surgery and a Navy Sailor is fighting for his life. This happened on American soil. This happened in the heart of the South.
I am deeply saddened and my own heart is broken for the families of these brave people. When you sign up for military service, you are essentially writing a blank check to your government. You never expect that check to be cashed at home. I have cousins who are Marines. I have Navy Sailors as relatives and friends. My grandfather and my Uncle served in the Army. My ex-husband was in the Air Force and so were his parents.
Americans died and Americans were wounded here on American soil. These are People who stood up when the questions were asked: “Who will defend our country? Who will give their all for their fellow Americans? Who will serve? Who will protect?”
Brothers, Fathers, Sons,….Americans. These are members of our extended family even though we may never have met them. These are our Heroes. Today I mourn our fallen heroes.