Yesterday, January 6, is celebrated as Epiphany on the Christian calendar. It’s also Houston’s birthday. I gave him a call and briefly thought about driving down to have lunch with him. That was going to be a stretch to fit in with the rest of the day’s activities, so we just chatted for awhile.
Sadly, January 6 has now become synonymous with an attempt to overthrow the government. It was a beautiful day, so I decided to head out, explore, and get away from the news and remembrances. I didn’t escape, though.
For some strange reason I decided to head up to Kings Mountain. It had been so long since I’d been there that I couldn’t remember anything about it. After getting stuck in I-85 traffic in Gaffney for about an hour, I finally made it there. First I drove over to Kings Mountain State Park and got another stamp in my State Park book. Then I headed over to the actual battle ground.
Kings Mountain is divided into two parks. One is a state park that allows camping, picnicking, horseback riding, and other recreational activities. The other is a national military park and is reserved as a memorial. Such activities are not allowed.
I walked the 1.5 mile trail around the mountain, stopping to read the displays as I went. I was struck by several thoughts. First, I tried to imagine what it would have been like in the heat of battle, knowing people are trying to kill you while you try to kill them, not knowing when one of their weapons will find its mark on your own body. War is such a terrible way to settle things.
The second thought I had was the irony that some of the greatest battlefields are now some of the most tranquil spots. I had the trail all to myself and enjoyed the peacefulness of the stream, then the views from the ridge once I gained the summit.
There were several side memorials commemorating various participants in the conflict. Some of these weren’t as legible in the harsh mid-day light. I had just gotten a new iPhone 14 with LIDAR and decided to see what it could do. One of the memorials commemorated a speech by President Herbert Hoover on the location. I used the LIDAR camera combined with the regular cameras to created a 3-D model of the memorial. It did enhance the text so that I could read it much easier.
I’m going to have to try this when I come across a cemetery headstone that’s hard to read.
Eventually I made it to the summit and I was surprised to find not one, but two memorials. The first was commissioned by the Daughters of the Revolution and completed in 1878.
Further along the ridge is a much taller obelisk erected in 1907. It has pretty much the same inscriptions, so to me it seemed just a bit redundant.
I made my way back down the hill to the visitors center where I walked through the displays. I also took the opportunity to purchase a lifetime National Parks Pass, now that I’m eligible.
As I drove back home I started thinking about the January 6 insurrection and the Patriots on Kings Mountain. The participants at Jan. 6 would love to draw favorable comparisons between themselves and those that fought for independence. I certainly don’t see it that way. For one, the Over Mountain Boys were fighting against an invading army that had committed acts of violence against the people. The Proud Boys, on the other hand, attacked a government body doing its job. No comparison.
I stopped for gas and was reminded that sentiments are still divided. A guy walked in wearing a t-shirt with “We the People” in script on the front and a circle with a Roman numeral III on the back. Those are symbols of the insurrection. I had to memorize the Preamble to the Constitution in grade school and I remember significant parts about “…establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty…” That “domestic Tranquilty” and “general Welfare” bit seems to have been forgotten and the opening three words have now been turned into a phrase of incitement.
The III stands for 3 Percenters, or the idea that only 3% of the colonists for Independence. They are counting themselves among today’s 3%. I’m sure the choice of apparel on today’s date was not a coincidence.