When we moved to the small north Georgia town of Ringgold 5 years ago, we were surprised to discover what a throwback community it was. We’ve lived in and are both from small towns, but the uniqueness of a town where everybody still seemed to know everybody was striking. Other quirks appeared over the years. While the rest of the world celebrates Memorial Day, our town celebrates “1890s Days” involving a main street-closing event with craft tents, inflatables, gospel music on the lawn of the courthouse, and a pickin’/fiddlin’/harmonica contest (which is legit). Somewhere in there I presume something has to do with the 1890s.
But the most dramatic thing our little town does involves memorial flags. Several times a year (Memorial Day (err, 1890s Days), 4th of July, any election day, and one I think I’m forgetting) Ringgold, GA lines its streets with American flags affixed to the top of white crosses. The crosses bear the names of deceased American armed forces veterans from Ringgold with either their branch of service or theater of war in which they served below the name. It’s a genuinely small town, so when they put up 1,000 flags and crosses it’s pretty noticeable and an unusual tribute.
Which leads to one of my favorite memories. Whenever the flags go up I remember with amusement a visit from my in-laws during one of the decorated holidays. We drove through town in silence and as we came past the children’s park on LaFayette St. (be assured that’s mispronounced with authority) my father-in-law finally spoke.
“Man. Your little town sure is careless in warfare.”
I was confused for a moment, then realized what he was thinking.
“They’re deceased vets, Keith. They weren’t all killed in action. There’s a special section for that in front of the courthouse.”
“Oh! Well, that’s a relief. I thought there was some kind of training issue.”