Honoring the South





Dogwood trees are not only very beautiful, especially when they bloom in the spring in places like the Great Smoky Mountains. They are also very special, because of The Legend of the Dogwood, which goes like this:

At the time of the Crucifixion the dogwood had been the size of the mighty oak and other grand trees of the forest. So firm and strong was the dogwood tree that it was chosen as the timber of the cross. The tree was greatly distressed to be used for such a cruel purpose and Jesus, as he was nailed to it, sensed this distress, sorrow, and suffering.

Jesus said to the tree: “Because of your regret and pity for My suffering, never again shall the dogwood tree grow large enough to be used as a cross. Henceforth it shall be slender and bent and twisted, and its blossoms shall be in the form of a cross, with two long and two short petals. And in the center of the outer edge of each petal there will be nail prints, brown with rust and stained with red, and in the center of the flower will be a crown of thorns, and all who see it will remember.”


We have all felt the chills while listening to Taps, but perhaps you have never seen all the words to the song, or perhaps you didn’t know that it had more than one verse. I have just learned that there is a story behind the song and I thought I’d pass it along. Especially now in the wake of the loss of 17 and maybe 27 U.S. sailors, it instills in us an even deeper respect for the song. I don’t know if the story is true or not, but it could be.

It all began in 1862 during the Civil War, when Union Army Captain Robert Ellicombe was with his men near Harrison’s Landing in Virginia. The Confederate Army was on the other side of the narrow strip of land. During the night, Captain Ellicombe heard the moans of a soldier who lay mortally wounded on the field. Not knowing if it was a Union or Confederate soldier, the Captain decided to risk his life and bring the stricken man back for medical attention. Crawling on his stomach through the gunfire, the Captain reached the stricken soldier and began pulling him toward his encampment. When the Captain finally reached his own lines, he discovered it was actually a Confederate soldier, but the soldier was dead.  The Captain lit a lantern and suddenly caught his breath and went numb with shock. In the dim light, he saw the face of the soldier. It was his own son. The boy had been studying music in the South when the war broke out. Without telling his father, he enlisted in the Confederate Army.

The following morning, heartbroken, the father asked permission of his superiors to give his son a full military burial despite his enemy status. His request was only partially granted. The Captain had asked if he could have a group of Army band members play a funeral dirge for his son at the funeral. The request was turned down since the soldier was a Confederate; but, out of respect for the father, they did say they could give him only one musician. The Captain chose a bugler. He asked the bugler to play a series of musical notes he had found on a piece of paper in the pocket of the dead youth’s uniform. This wish was granted. The haunting melody we now know as Taps used at military funerals was born.

“Day is done, gone the sun, from the Lakes, from the hills, from the sky.  All is well, safely rest, God is nigh.

Fading light, Dims the sight, And a star, gems the sky, Gleaming bright, From afar, Drawing nigh,, Falls the night.

Thanks and praise, For our days, Neath the sun, Neath the stars, Neath the sky, As we go, This we know, God is nigh.”

SOUTHERN RULES (Issued by the Southern Tourism Bureau to ALL visiting Northerners And Northeastern Urbanites:
Yankees – If you are offended you know where the delete key is :-})

  1. Don’t order filet mignon or pasta primavera at Waffle House. It’s just a diner. They serve breakfast 24 hours a day. Let them cook something they know. If you confuse them, they’ll kick your ass.
  2. Don’t laugh at our Southern names. (Merleen, Bodie, Ovine, Luther Ray, Tammy Lynn, Darla Beth, Inez, Billy Joe, Sissy, etc.) These people have all been known to kick ass.
  3. Don’t order a bottle of pop or a can of soda down here. Down here it’s called Coke. Nobody gives a flying damn whether it’s Pepsi, RC, Dr. Pepper, 7‑Up or whatever – it’s still a Coke. Accept it. Doing otherwise can lead to an ass kicking.
  4. We know our heritage. Most of us are more literate than you (e.g., Welty, Williams, Faulkner). We are also better educated and generally a lot nicer. Don’t refer to us as a bunch of hillbillies, or we’ll kick your ass.
  5. We have plenty of business sense (e.g., Fred Smith of Fed Ex, Turner Broadcasting, MCI WorldCom, MTV, Netscape). Naturally, we do, sometimes, have small lapses in judgment (e.g., Carter, Edwards, Duke, Barnes). We don’t care if you think we are dumb. We can still kick your ass.
  6. Don’t laugh at our Civil War monuments. If Lee had listened to Longstreet and flanked Meade at Gettysburg instead of sending Pickett up the middle, you’d be paying taxes to Richmond instead of Washington. If you visit Stone Mountain and complain about the carving, we’ll kick your ass.
  7. We are fully aware of how high the humidity is, so shut the hell up, spend your money, and get the hell out of here or we’ll kick your ass.
  8. Don’t order wheat toast at Cracker Barrel. Everyone will instantly know that you’re from Ohio. Eat your biscuits like God intended. Don’t put sugar on your grits, or we’ll kick your ass.
  9. Don’t fake a Southern accent. This will incite a riot, and you will get your ass kicked.
  10. Don’t talk about how much better things are at home because we don’t give a damn. Many of us have visited Northern hell holes like Detroit, Chicago, and DC, and we have the scars to prove it. If you don’t like it here, Delta is ready when you are. Take your ass home before it gets kicked.
  11. Yes, we know how to speak proper English. We talk this way because we don’t want to sound like you. We don’t care if you don’t understand what we are saying. All other Southerners understand what we are saying, and that’s all that matters. Now, go away, or we’ll kick your ass.
  12. Don’t complain that the South is dirty and polluted. None of OUR lakes have caught fire like scenic Lake Erie once did. Whine about OUR scenic beauty, and we’ll kick your ass all the way back into Boston Harbor.
  13. Don’t ridicule our Southern manners. We say “sir” and “ma’am,” hold doors open for others, and offer our seats to old folks because such things are expected of civilized people. Behave yourselves around our sweet little gray-haired grandmothers or they’ll kick some manners into your ass just like they did ours.
  14. So you think we’re quaint or losers because most of us live in the countryside? That’s because we have enough sense to not live in smelly, crime‑infested cesspools like New York or Baltimore. Make fun of our fresh air, and we’ll kick your ass.
  15. Last, but not least, DO NOT DARE to come down here trying to tell us how to cook Barbecue. This will get your ass shot off (right after it is kicked). You’re lucky we let you come down here at all. Question our sacred BBQ, and you go home in a pine box – minus your kicked ass.

THE SEVEN SIGNS OF SOUTHERNNESS  (By Dr. Mellanie Johnson, www.southernness.com)

First Sign:  Expressing

It perpetuates our great legacy of storytelling. All of the great American literature and music radiates from potent Southern roots.

Second Sign:  Timeweaving

William Faulkner explains it:”In the South] the past is not dead. It is not even past.” We value the past as we make progress, seamlessly knitting the same spirit of 1768, the year the Mason-Dixon line was completed, with the exhilaration felt at this mornings launch of a space shuttle into blazing Southern skies.

Third Sign:  Rooting

It explains our deeply connected sense of place, as Miss Eudora Welty so beautifully describes the sensory connection to our beloved South.

Fourth Sign:  Accommodating

The quality that describes the special feeling that this fantasy is unique and singular, that one’s presence is cherished. This trait is the very essence of Southern Hospitality. We treat every situation and every person as unique.

Fifth Sign:  Gathering

It is explained by Anne Tyler as our need to belong to a group, our tendency to tell a story with “We” rather than Southerners gather more as families and teams and companies and fans.

Sixth Sign:  Embracing

The welcoming Southern spirit. The most brilliant color in the South is gold. God gave the South the dazzling Southern sun and assembled a dazzling array of color in our people. Our rich history of large, diverse groups sharing the land explains the richness of Southern cuisine, such as teacakes from England, French petits fours, fried yam pies from Africa, Hebrew cinnamon rolls, and Spanish flanBall presented on a heavy Irish silver tray.

Seventh Sign:  Twining

We intertwine pleasure into all things Southern. Harper Lee confesses that the only reason Southerners work is to make time to hunt and fish and gossip. We live to laugh and love and lap up every luxurious pleasure offered in this golden place.


40. Oh I just couldn’t, she’s only sixteen.
39. I’ll take Shakespeare for 1000, Alex.
38. Duct tape won’t fix that.
37. Honey, I think we should sell the pickup and buy a family sedan.
36. Come to think of it, I’ll have a Heineken.
35. We don’t keep firearms n this house.
34. Has anybody seen the sideburns trimmer?
33. You can’t feed that to the dog.
32. I thought Graceland was tacky.
31. No kids in the back of the pickup, it’s just not safe.
30. Wrestling’s fake.
29. Honey, did you mail that donation to Greenpeace?
28. We’re vegetarians.
27. Do you think my gut is too big?
26. I’ll have grapefruit and grapes instead of biscuits and gravy.
25. Honey, we don’t need another dog.
24. Who gives a damn who won the Civil War?
23. Give me the small bag of pork rinds.
22. Too many deer heads detract from the decor.
21. Spittin is such a nasty habit.
20. I just couldn’t find a thing at Walmart today.
19. Trim the fat off that steak.
18. Cappuccino tastes better than espresso.
17. The tires on that truck are too big.
16. I’ll have the arugula and radicchio salad.
15. I’ve got it all on the C: drive.
14. Unsweetened tea tastes better.
13. Would you like your fish poached or broiled?
12. My fiance, Bobbie Jo, is registered at Tiffany’s.
11. I’ve got two cases of Zima for the Super Bowl.
10. Little Debbie snack cakes have too many fat grams.
9. Checkmate.
8. She’s too young to be wearing a bikini.
7. Does the salad bar have bean sprouts?
6. Hey, here’s an episode of “Hee Haw” that we haven’t seen.
5. I don’t have a favorite college team.
4. Be sure to bring my salad dressing on the side.
3. Nope, no more for me. I’m drivin tonight.
2. Those shorts ought to be a little longer, Darlin’.

And, Number ONE is:
1. You All.


Will Rogers wasn’t from the South, but his wisdom is dead-on Southern–especially the part of the South that includes the Republic of Texas. See if you don’t agree:

Don’t squat with your spurs on.

Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment.

Lettin’ the cat outta the bag is a whole lot easier ‘n putting’ it back in.

If you’re riding’ ahead of the herd, take a look back every now and then to make sure it’s still there.

If you get to thinking you’re a person of some influence, try ordering somebody else’s dog around.

After eating an entire bull, a mountain lion felt so good he started roaring. He kept it up until a hunter came along and shot him …The moral: When you’re full of bull, keep your mouth shut.

Never kick a cow chip on a hot day.

There’s two theories to arguing with a woman. Neither one works.

If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop digging.

Never slap a man who’s chewing tobacco.

It don’t take a genius to spot a goat in a flock of sheep.

When you give a lesson in meanness to a critter or a person, don’t be surprised if they learn their lesson.

The quickest way to double your money is to fold it over and put it back in your pocket.

Never miss a good chance to shut up.

Always drink upstream from the herd.

When you’re throwing’ your weight around, be ready to have it thrown around by somebody else.

There are three kinds of men. The ones that learn by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves.


  1. Well, butter my butt and call me a biscuit.
  2. It’s been hotter’n a goat’s butt in a pepper patch.
  3. He fell out of the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down.
  4. Have a cup of coffee, it’s already been saucered and blowed.
  5. She’s so stuck up, she’d drown in a rainstorm.
  6. It’s so dry, the trees are bribing the dogs.
  7. My cow died last night so I don’t need your bull.
  8. Don’t pee down my back and tell me it’s raining.
  9. He’s as country as cornflakes.
  10. This is gooder’n grits.
  11. Busier than a cat covering crap on a marble floor.
  12. If things get any better, I may have to hire someone to help me enjoy it.