Sunday, January 15, 2017

The End of the Road

In every man’s life there comes a moment when he is compelled to leave the comfort of his home, the kindness of his neighbors, and the solicitude of his friends and hit the open road with no protective barriers between him and the vast unknown. Or, as in this case, to get into the car with his partner and hang a right on Chef Menteur Highway and drive down to the end of the world (!)—better known as Fort Pike.
Nearly two centuries ago, American officials were worried about Louisiana’s coastline. But their concern wasn’t erosion of the marshes or walls of water driven by a storm devastating the region. It was foreign navies.

Fresh off of stinging naval defeats to the British in the War of 1812, President James Monroe and the Congress of the fledgling United States settled on coastal defense as a priority.

To address that concern, they commissioned a series of forts to be built along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. These forts, known as the Third System of coastal defenses, included Fort Monroe in Virginia, Fort Sumter in South Carolina, Fort Pickens in Pensacola Bay and Fort Pike in Louisiana, as well as more than three dozen others.

Today, those forts are historical relics, reminders of the way wars were fought before aircraft, smart bombs and ballistic missiles.

“Before Hurricane Katrina, the fort's brick-and-mortar structure was decaying. The 2005 storm surge exacerbated the problems. It temporarily completely submerged the entire fort, and destroyed adjacent state park buildings.”

“The closure means that people will no longer be able to stand atop Fort Pike’s walls, gazing toward the Gulf of Mexico or Lake Pontchartrain, or wander through the low galleries that line the outer wall or the barracks in the center of the fort.”

“The fort’s construction and masonry, much of which remains intact, is an important window into the United States in the pre-Civil War era, said Lawrence Powell, a professor emeritus at Tulane University who specializes in U.S. and Louisiana history.”

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Every Day a Little Death

Looking at my calendar, I noticed yesterday was Bigezbear’s 12th anniversary. I’ve been neglectful.

I’ve been grieving. Grieving the passing, the lessening of my usefulness to others as I grow older. Grieving the passing of civility in those places where people could once be counted on to be courteous to one another.

I had forgotten the word that had presented itself to me to be my standard in the daily battles of my life. Racham. I had lain it aside and lost the map to the nook in which I had left it.

I’ve been hiding behind these walls, accommodating myself to the gathering darkness, making friends with it since I didn’t believe there were any others left to me.

I need to open doors again. I need to see sunlight. I need to step out into the light again.

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