In my search for Christ, I have found that He is always there. He walks upon the wind. He can be seen in the sky and upon the land. The ocean sings His praises and the weather demonstrates His might. He is beside us, inside us and surrounds us with His love. But we see through a turbid veil and at times do not recognize His presence.
In retrospect, we are given experiences that defy words. We are presented blessed opportunities to help our fellow man and to offer closure. The following is one of those moments frozen in time.
My old friend, John Peck, who I affectionally call the Old Spy, called me. He stated that a family member (Laura Blair) had contacted him and wanted to know if we could honor their father’s last request.
He had passed across the River Jordan 10 years ago and his wish was on the 10th anniversary of his passing, to have his ashes scattered upon the Leatherwood Battlefield, which is located in Cornettsville, Kentucky. John asked me if I would wish to participate. I replied that it would be an honor.
I began working on a rough schedule and submitted it to the Old Spy so he could forward it to children of the Fess Owen Blair. John contacted the Leatherwood and Brashearville Committee and they too were honored to participate in the ceremony. We set a date to meet and finalize the dedication.
The meeting yielded several ideas and the agenda was developed. Kerry Crutcher graciously consented to create a two-fold flyer that would include pictures of Fess, the agenda, a poem entitled One of the Boys Has Fallen and the powerfully prayer found on a soldier after a battle entitled, I Asked God. During the meeting, the committee members present talked to the Laura, the daughter of the Mr. Blair. She was elated with the proposals.
On August 5, 2019, approximately 30 family members came from the surrounding area, as well as Ohio. The ceremony honoring the memory of the fallen began with John Peck reading a verse from the Bible.
The eulogy (written by John Peck) was given by Susan Flynn, a cousin. In the acclamation, Fess’s service to his country and as a police officer was recognized. His love for our country, history, and reenacting was shared.
After the tribute, David Chaltas (in the persona of General Lee) offered a moving rendition of We Drank From the Same Canteen.
He talked about Christ on the cross when all things were accomplished, and He cried out ‘I thirst’ (John 19:28). The centurion dipped his sponge into Posca (soured wine with myrh and gall). It served two purposes: to dull the pain but prolong the agony.
He then put the sponge on a spear and touched the lips of Christ.
He talked of Marye’s Heights on that frozen day on December 13, 1862, when thousands of Federal troops laid wounded crying out for water.
He told of Sgt Richard Kirkland, hearing the cries of those wounded, went to the aid of his former enemies, now fellow men, offering them water of compassion.
A drink from the canteen was offered to God, the source of living water, one in honor of Mr. Blair, and then the canteen was passed to the soldiers as he read the poem mentioned.
Anita Holland, dressed in period attire, did a moving version of Amazing Grace.
Everyone joined in on the last stanza. Kerry Crutcher read the poem entitled, One of the Boys has Fallen. Gary Begley shared the prayer, I Asked God.
The family of Fess Owen Blair, led by his son, Luke Blair, took turns scattering the ashes.
The Honor Guard, under the command of Colonel Crutcher, fired three volleys. Willis Strong, Quinton Childers, and Luke Blair loaded the artillery piece with the remaining ashes of Fess and his son had the honor of firing the final rounds that scattered his father’s ashes over the field.
A hush fell over the crowd as taps was played by John Peck.
David Chaltas presented an American flag to the family on behalf of a grateful nation, for Mr. Blair’s public service as a police officer, and for his years of honoring his ancestors through reenacting. Laura Blair, accepted the flag in remembrance of her father.
There were tears of gratitude, as the old general offered closing comments.
Paul Taulbee, dressed as an old-time parson, gave a moving and appropriate benediction to close the formal ceremony honoring the last wishes of Mr. Blair.
The family was so grateful to all and showed it by their well wishes and comments. For just a moment, some could sense an aura around the battlefield where the ashes had been scattered.
Finally, after 10 years, a man’s wishes had been fulfilled and a soldier had crossed the turbid veil and now rests in heaven’s care across that distant shore.