Soldiers and Writers Can Never Give Up
Visitors to the site can see how huge the camp was as Highway 27 now runs through the middle! There is a replica of the barracks, original defense works, and four burial sites. The Kentucky National Cemetery is adjacent and can be viewed from a hilltop in the camp. An interpretive center, a museum and a gift shop are all on the site. Five miles of hiking trails across the hills of native grasses beckon. It’s so quiet you can hear .....
Black troops from several states come to this event. I met one of the cavalry. He and his horse came with their unit from Gainesville, Florida. We talked about a lot of things, and eventually about diversity in kids’ literature, a particular cause of mine and his. I told him about my history book of Jim Limber for middle grade readers and the difficulty I’m having getting it published. I was particularly discouraged when a Christian publishing company I have a good history with, said they couldn’t publish it because they “have to be careful about these things.”
The soldier and I discovered we grew up in the same years. “Ma’am, you are just a lovely lady,” he said. Then he pointed his finger in the air and said, “You know that in those years I wouldn’t have been able to say that to you?”
“And you, sir, are a fine officer and a gentlemen. And a very handsome one at that! And I wouldn’t have dared to say that to you.” We high-fived and celebrated how far we’ve come in our own lifetimes. But we knew it began in 1864, where we were now standing dressed in our 1864 attire. While we’re tempted to say, “We’ve come a long way, baby,” what we really have to say is, “It’s a long time coming!”
I promised him I wouldn’t give up and I would find a publisher for the Mysterious Life of Jim Limber, an important book for African American middle graders. I promised I’d send him the first one out of the box. One thing soldiers and writers can’t do is give up on their cause.