My recent business trip

This year has been a unusual year for me in the sense that I have traveled a lot.  Every month I seem to be going somewhere new.  Not that I'm complaining as these travels have allowed me to meet new people, experience things I have never experienced and most of all see things and places I have never seen.  These travels take me away from my family, friends and garden but overall I believe build my character and allow me to become a better employee as I become familiar with various territories.

Anyway, my most recent trip took me to Murfreesboro, Tennessee for the first time.  I was in Nashville two months ago but never made the trip to the exact center of the state which is in fact Murfreesboro.  I love Tennessee.  I love how respectful people are, calling you Ma'am everywhere you go.  I love the southern draw and the loss of words this draw creates.  Prime example instead of the "How are you?" you will hear "Ha Yew?". Gentlemen tip their hats, say thank you and open doors.   I love it. Makes me smile. 

For some reason, this trip surrounded me with military people and places.  It almost became a theme.  I have a soft spot for anyone who is or has been involved in the service.  Along with their families, they have sacrificed more than many of us ever have to or will know.  Having heard some of their stories through the years has allowed me to realize that we have very little to complain about in our everyday lives.

I must share that I had the opportunity to speak with a Gulf War veteran several trips ago.  She pulled at my heart strings and taught me an incredible amount of things about the treatment of Veterans.  She said something that will always stay with me and that is to never say "Welcome Home" to a returning Veteran.  Many times, the Veteran doesn't know what this means.  They have become so accustomed to their recent routine while deployed and in some cases, returning home can be scarier than staying in their dangerous conditions.  We have heard of prisoners being released from prison, only to commit a crime so they to return.  That is because they were used to prison, to the routine, to the noises.  I believe this is very similar to what some of our Veterans go through.

From now on, I say "Enjoy the weather."

My military surroundings began on my connecting flight between Memphis and Nashville.  Several gentlemen from the National Guard were returning from their 6 month stay in Iraq.  I had the pleasure of being seated next to one of these gentlemen.  A 6'5" very proud single father of a beautiful red headed little girl of which in her 5 years he has only been able to see 6-7 months.  This day, he was returning from his 3rd tour to Iraq since 2005.  I couldn't even imagine how difficult it must have been for him to miss out on those precious years. Yet he had no complaints even though he was obviously tired and weary.  It was an honor to meet him.

My second day in Murfreesboro, the show I attended ended at 3 so I decided to visit some historical sites that were surrounding me.  My site of choice was the Stones River National Battlefield.  Just a couple miles from my hotel, everyone mentioned it was worth seeing.  As a matter of fact, my hotel and many other business were built on the battle grounds.  Click here for a link to their site.

I am by no means a Civil War buff but decided to visit anyway.  Here is a description that summarizes the battle. "A Hard Earned Victory:  The Battle of Stones River began on the last day of 1862 and was one of the bloodiest conflicts of the Civil War. The battle produced important military and political gains for the Union, and it changed forever the people who lived and fought here."

I began my visit in the National Cemetery.  Again another first.

I have never seen a cemetery like this where all of the similar tombstones are carefully spaced an exact distance apart as far as the eye can see.  I didn't know any of these soldiers yet I couldn't help but be touched. 

I came across several of these grave markers.

No name, no location, just a number.  Maybe this person is lucky in a way, he received a marker while thousands did not. 

The cemetery was peaceful and calm.  Almost the feeling you would have if you were sitting near a lake on a wooded lot.  Not the feeling I normally would associate with a cemetery of this magnitude. 

My next stop was at the visitors center where I watched a short video, read some of the quotes from the war and saw some of the recovered artifacts.  I then ventured out to visit the battlefield.  Initially I thought I would exit my car to see the hidden sites that can only be seen by foot. However after I started to drive through the area, a lump rose in my throat and I became incredibly uncomfortable so I decided to leave.

I think the magnitude of what transpired in this location effected me.  80,000+ troops all in a line just shooting at each other until the winner was determined by how many were left standing at the end of the day.  Must have taken an incredible amount of courage to wake up in the morning, if they slept, to know what lay ahead of them. 

So not all things were military. I certainly had to take advantage of a local eatery while there and decided to wake up extra early on Wednesday.  I heard of a place called the City Cafe in the old down town of Murfressboro.  If you are ever in Murfreesboro, this is an absolute must stop.  Established in 1900, this restaurant is one of the oldest still operating in the city.  Built on a quiet street right in view of the pre Civil war courthouse, I felt as if I had just entered the movie Forest Gump.  All of the buildings had the cute little canopies.  Benches and chairs were outside the stores for the old gentlemen to sit of which they were.  It was so quaint and welcoming.

I entered the restaurant only to be greeted by Brenda the waitress at the front door.  She was the sweetest lady I met the entire trip.  All of the regulars, old farmers, lawyers, an officer and even the Sheriff were gathered together for their morning joe and a biscuit or plate of eggs.  Brenda knew these regulars like they were family, even offered to pick up some pain medicine for one of the older gentlemen.  Oh but the best part was that Brenda, a proud gardener, had brought in fresh tomatoes from her garden to accompany every ones breakfast. This restaurant absolutely made my day.

On my flight home, what do you know, I sat next to another military person.  This time, a gal of which I was at least 15 years her senior.  Instead of coming home, she was being deployed to Germany for about 3 years.  At 20, the last thing I was thinking about was having to be away from my family for such a long period of time let alone in another country.  Makes me wonder how this will shape her through her years as an adult.  I wished her an uneventful tour and good beer. 

I think this trip concluded my travels at least for a few months.  I wonder what the theme for the next one will be.

2 Responses
  1. Dirt Lover Says:

    Makes me proud to be an American. Beautiful, strong people, doing what needs to be done, so we can live our lives. Thanks to all of our service men and women, for all the work they do, every day.

  2. Lori I couldn't have said it better myself.

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