First, some housekeeping matters.
1. Remember, I, Joey, am a “kangaroo court” puppet. I am not a person. Except when the topic is personal and serious, Jeffrey gives a voice to the voiceless – to me. That’s what lawyers and nurses do.
2. Some of my fans follow us via Facebook or automatic daily emails. But if they don’t visit the blog site – rideforhumanrights.com – they will miss the updates on distance traveled, donors and donations, and will not have access to the Joey or the Tennessee links to donate to support human rights.
3. We’ve already given deserved praise to the Lightning and Zzip Design folks for their superior products. We now add a plug for My Trials: What I Learned in Immigration Court, by Paul Grussendorf. Paul plays guitar for The Speakeasy Boys, whom Jeffrey heard last night. Lots of people have told Jeffrey to write a book; it seems it already has been written:
“With a cast of colorful characters and compelling tales, [it] is both a scathing indictment of a broken immigration system that sends vulnerable immigrants back to the perilous situations from which they fled, and a heartfelt call for a return to the values upon which our nation of immigrants was founded.”
Life is all about values. That’s why we Ride for Human Rights.
Back to our story.
Minutes after leaving Harpers Ferry, we saw this sign.
But strange to say, the Valley is higher than Harpers Ferry. By the end of the day, we had climbed many hills high enough for us to whoosh down the other side at speeds of over 30 mph (50 kph). We had so many long, fast downhill runs, it felt like our stop for the night, in Mt. Jackson, was lower than Harpers Ferry. In fact, it’s twice as high above sea level.
West Virginia has tons of Civil War history. Here’s the site of a brief, violent encounter, and the spring house that still stands across the road from the stone barn.
A few miles later, we came to the state line. Maybe someone doesn’t yet accept West Virginia’s 1862 secession from Virginia; the signs suggest that one is passing from one county to another, not between states.
Here’s U.S. 11 in Virginia. We’ll follow it to Knoxville. It stretches from the Canadian border with NY all the way to New Orleans, serving as Jeffrey’s native village’s Main Street along the way.
Here’s the striking library building in Winchester, VA. This kind woman, who offered Jeffrey any help he might need (including lunch), said that of the 100 largest libraries in Virginia, the library (not the building!) is ranked 78th. Local people are campaigning to upgrade it. Winchester and most of the other towns we passed through today are almost painfully pretty and well-kept. An active citizenry must be commonplace.
We shared the road with cars – almost all politely driven – and saw many churches.
The sign below does not belong to the church above. The sign, which is by another church on U.S. 11 / Old Valley Pike, got us thinking. Note that this Christian academy’s sports teams are the “Patriots”.
We don’t know, but it’s possible that some members of this congregation oppose leniency for refugees or for foreigners who reside here without government permission. If so, consider the irony of the other name for U.S. 11 / Old Valley Pike:
The “Patriots” are based on a road named for anti-patriots R. E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson, who died with the blood of hundreds of thousands on their hands. Their memory is honored in these parts, at the same time many object to mercy for a foreigner who lacks the “right” papers but otherwise is a constructive part of our community. Somehow, many people fail to grasp the illogic.
The local enthusiasm for honoring traitors is hard to miss. Here’s part of the Cedar Creek battle site. Only the rebel flag is flying. The rebels lost the battle!
Here’s a motel that advertises itself as “American Owned”. Is that a code? What is the motel owner trying to tell us?
The Shenandoah Valley is bloody because, 150 years ago, armed men hunted one another here, up and down, back and forth. There are Civil War historic markers at every turn. Towns changed hands multiple times.
The Blue Ridge mountains were beautiful in the 1860s and they still are. People play their cruel bloody games and disappear. The mountains remain.
Remember the sabbath – whatever that means to you – and remember that refugees’ suffering does not take a holiday. So neither will we. We raised a bit of awareness today, and we hope to do the same tomorrow as we roll south.