Saturday, July 23, 2011

A Friday to Remember

I've been quite derelict in my duties of blogging - blame it on the summer doldrums which lulls many of us into complacency. But that's not to say there's nothing happening around here. An exciting event took place last Friday, and many (including myself) braved the heat to participate. July 15, 2011 marked an important milestone in Civil War and African-American history. An historical marker was unveiled at Folly Beach near a spot where the remains of two black soldiers from the 54th and 55th Massachusetts (Colored) Volunteers were discovered over 20 years ago. The regiments were stationed on Folly Beach in 1863 during the siege of Charleston by U.S. forces. (It was during that time that the actual events depicted in the movie, "Glory," took place on nearby Morris Island.) Many U.S. soldiers who died far away from home were buried in unmarked graves on Folly and Morris Islands, and their bodies lie still undiscovered. It just so happens that the remains of these two men were found by my childhood friend 125 years after they'd died. Robert Bohrn, an avid relic hunter since I knew him as a kid, found the intact skeletons in 1987 and initiated the effort to have the men reinterred at Beaufort National Cemetery and a marker dedicated on Folly Beach to all the men of the 55th. He also personally paid for bronze busts to be cast from the skulls of these two so that their likenesses could be known and memorialized. Robert's childhood passion has now itself become a part of history. I still have visions of a young, skinny 13-year old trudging through the marsh in our neighborhood, covered with pluff mud and carrying his metal detector and a bag with all kinds of Civil War artifacts that he found almost daily. Thanks, Robert, for your lifelong avocation and for opening up our eyes to the history that surrounds us.