The Reunion Barbecue

by Andy Wood on November 7, 2011

in Enlarging Your Capacity, Life Currency, Love, LV Cycle, LV Stories, Principle of Freedom

Alexander's Bridge over Chickamauga Creek

Imagine throwing a little backyard barbecue and inviting 12,000 of your closest friends.  And even closer enemies.

It happened nearly 125 years ago, in 1889, at a place called Chickamauga, near Chattanooga, TN.  And it took place where these friends and enemies had once gathered 26 years earlier to kill each other.

You don’t hear as much about the Battle of Chickamauga as you do Vicksburg or Gettysburg or Shiloh.  But in two days, 66,000 Confederate and 58,000 Union troops staged two days of hell – desperate, often hand-to-hand combat.  Somewhere around 18,480 Confederate and 16,240 Union soldiers were killed, wounded or missing when all was said and done.

One side won the battle.  The other won the war.

Then as time passed, something remarkable happened.  I don’t know who Tweeted the idea or who posted the Facebook page, but somebody believed that the country should establish memorials at significant battlefields.  And their idea:  Let’s have a reunion and invite soldiers from both sides to come back to Chickamauga and break bread – and swords – together.

Would you believe they did?  To the tune of 12,000 people.

That’s a lot of barbecue.

That’s a lot more heart.

On hand that day was Major General William S. Rosecrans, who commanded the defeated Union forces at Chickamauga.  Of that historic gathering, Rosecrans said, “It took great men to win that battle, but it takes greater men still, I will say morally greater, to wipe away all the ill feeling which naturally grows out of such a contest.”

Because of the efforts of those gathered that day, as well as others, Congress authorized the establishment of four national military parks to be established at Chickamauga/Chattanooga, Gettysburg, Shiloh, and Vicksburg.

All because somebody went first and said, “Let’s never forget.”

All because a lot of people agreed and said, “Let’s quit fighting.”

All because some courageous and big-hearted people decided to turn a battlefield into a barbecue.

Greater men still?

Morally greater?

No doubt about it.

Let’s be clear, though. This was 26 years – not 26 weeks – later.  Some wounds take time to heal – especially wounds on a national scale.

Let’s also admit that a lot of folks probably chose to remain bitter and stay home.

That said, I wonder.  Are there any battlefields you need to return to?  Any swords you need to bury?  Any personal memorials you need to establish, like the altars built in Genesis, as reminders of the past or symbols to declare, “Never again”?

It doesn’t take a grand reunion or an open-roasted pig. (Note to my Texas friends:  It weren’t no cow on the pit that day.)

It doesn’t take an act of Congress.

Sometimes the healing begins with a chance meeting at Walmart (that just happened for me) or a willingness to be the first to say, “Let’s have lunch or coffee.”  Sometimes it’s just a matter of treating a former enemy like a friend.  Or at least like a human.

“Blessed are the peacemakers,” Jesus said, “for they will be called children of God.”  There is never a time you look more like your Heavenly Father than the times you make peace.

Maybe it’s time for you to remember.

Maybe it’s time for you to return.

Maybe it’s time for you to reunite.

Maybe it’s time for you to make peace.

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