For the next several months and into the next year, the people of Rome were not only busy dealing with interruptions in usual life, but there was a change in rhythm about the whole city - tense vibes of the unknown, news of atrocities out of Atlanta, Birmingham, Charlotte, Mobile, and Charleston, and abnormalities in business compared to years before. These gave way to accepting a new form of life. People seemed more interested in helping their localities hands-on, and the focus of the community seemed to be on self-reliance and determination. The people realized we did not need federal funding or most consumer items, and that we could live off the land and help one another. Somehow everyone in the community seemed more essential, and there was a sweet spirit of gratitude and connection among the people that we had never experienced. We had just begun to really understand what community must have meant in days gone by; that of our ancestors making it together in families working to develop the land for survival.
Rome and other Southern towns became places of a sort of revival. People were watching TV much less, in their own virtual worlds much less, and coming together for tent meetings which seemingly kept growing in length. People were playing instruments of all sorts in their yards and porches, and even on the street corners. It was as if life in the midst of hell had become better due to the spirit of the people, or repentance to the Almighty, even. It was as if we were in “the land of Goshen”. People were spending time with family, helping neighbors through the winter, and even bartering more. It was simply a different time, a sweet feeling in the midst of much trouble that gave us a taste of what it must have meant to come together in the Old South.
Over that next year, there is no telling how many people’s gardens I helped with, as we took care of the elderly and helped get others started toward self-sufficiency. Paul’s employees donated much of their time. Paul was dragging a hoe tiredly across the ground, as we had been at it all day. “Hot one in Georgia”, said Victor as he dragged a load of wood behind him from the area being cleared to a bigger pile.
“Might get to relax some tomorrow. Sundays are almost like a sabbath again. Everyone is starting to close up,” replied Paul. I would do much of my reading on Sundays during that time. It was as though we were realizing the wisdom and balanced lives of our ancestors were more important than advancements in business and the gods of materialism and careerism.
Mrs. Garnett’s yard was beautiful, and I was glad we could help her. We sat down and spoke to her and the neighbors later, enjoying the sunset. “I haven’t felt this way in a good while,” Mrs. Garnett said as she was pouring tea for all of us. Finally sitting down, she said. “I can’t say I have seen real coming together as a people like this since I was a child."
Mr. Garnett came around the corner. “That says a lot coming from a 90-year-old lady, but as a 95-year-old man I have to agree.”
With an astonished look, Paul spoke, “I can’t believe your ages. You look so young!”.
I asked, “What’s the secret to a happy, long life?”
Mr. Garnett broke out into song. “You’ve got to kiss an angel good morning, let her know you think about her when you’re gone. Kiss angel good morning, and love her like the devil when you get back home…”. Laughter broke as we were not expecting Mr. Garnett’s gusto. Mrs. Garnett was laughing with a red face.
We set fire to the pile later. We were proud of our hard work around town for our people, and we even got a little wisdom, Charley Pride style.
The next week there were some Southern cultural drives aimed at encouraging the classics, with an emphasis on Greek and Roman writers, and various historical topics: the heritage passed down through the Magna Carta, the English Bill of Rights, and the colonial understanding of what it meant to be English.
Victor was surprised by what he was hearing. “What an awesome speaker! I feel pretty alien to the Old South”.
I responded, “Yeah, it's inspiring, and a look in the mirror all at once”.
Later that day, the speaker discussed items for sell from the Shotwell Publishing, Abbeville Institute, the Fleming Foundation, and other venues. He was inviting us into the Southern mind because “you can’t build a society like that of the Old South without having the quality of education and substance in the minds of the people of old. You have to fill your minds with the same substance. We cannot survive, we cannot thrive as they did without this cultivation of the mind.” He made quite an impression on us. From that day forward Victor and I never doubted the importance of a classical education, and were zealous for it.
Of course, there was still much tribulation to be had. Cultural survival depended on the people of Georgia not only coming together but making very difficult decisions. Over a century of progressive politics, Southern Cultural Genocide, and what amounted to legalized foreign invasion of peoples who did not care about our culture, despite the state being seceded, meant big trouble as well. The state of Georgia had begun to take more harsh and serious steps, even those that might sound have seemed of questionable moral standards just a few months ago. We realized to survive as a people, things had to be done. Things that would not have been needed had it not been for the progressive grave that had been dug for us.
By that time the new secession government had formed and the coalition among the several Southern states had grown stronger but was still loose and slow to order. In the meantime, Victor and I were taking orders of our own, from the Independent State of Georgia that is.
As the immigration supervisor briskly went down the roll, all of us loaded into the bus for our duty for the month. Recently elected Senator Miles sponsored and really pushed for more aggressive legislation to remove those who had been deemed illegals. Over the next several months, many would leave to New England and California for their once-again green pastures of corporations able to hire them. They did so no matter the cultural cost or cost to the taxpayer, but we did not know that at the time.
Reporting of the news was so dismal we always doubted numbers on migration. They were constant political talking points - fact or fiction - as they always had been. The bus rolled out, and there we were, headed for required training for practical and legal purposes.
“What’s that smell?””
“Huh?” I was in my own little zone of thoughts.
“That smell!” Victor cringed, and I smelled it. I smelled it. The center of the bus got tense and awkward, each of us trying to assess the situation. The bus driver wasvstartled by the people’s motions,
“What is it?”
“What?” He pulled the bus over. Then out of nowhere, “He shit in his pants! What the is wrong with him?” A staggering figure was pushed off the bus with a smeared wet streak trailing him and an odor that I never want to remember again. Patrollers were aggressively moving out of the bus as Victor, and I were trying to make sense out of what was occurring. Everyone filed hurriedly off of the bus as we made are way around to where the crowd was focused on the tall lanky man leaning against the bus, wreaking with his own fluids. Everyone almost silent as this was not pleasant and in amazement the man’s condition went unnoticed getting on the bus.
As we listened to the immigration supervisor and his staff, “Meth head. But no real record. There’s always one or two druggies per bus, and more will probably be discovered.” The supervisor was talking angrily. “The population is horrible, and it in the 2030’s. I hope independent Georgia does better with the drug problem than imperial Washington D.C.”.
Yes, we had much to be desired in looking to our ancestors of the 1860s. This secession and fight were much different in that it was not literal or all-out war, and secession was much messier. The root of the issue was a much less noble and put together. People were administering it this time out of the flames of hell that over a century of progressivism and drug issues had caused in the population. Whatever passion you felt for a service to your state was smothered by the everyday run ins with weirdos, druggies, and people not really devoted to anything but themselves. At least that is once we got away from our rural communities and were reporting to duty from various areas of Georgia. Apparently not every place was experiencing Southern revival at the same rate. All we could do is pray we outnumbered them.
The bus was cleaned, and everyone jumped back in and were headed for training. Georgia was in serious times. We felt better one second, and defeated the next.
As we filed into the training area, it was getting late. We were led to our quarters where everyone put their belongings up and got some much-needed rest. The next four weeks on immigration patrol would not be fun or comfortable. Victor and I agreed on necessity and duty, but hated the reality of doing it. After the first couple of days with of tons of agonizing lectures on legal training, how to approach people, and protocol, we were glad to get out and about with weapons training. Besides, the State of Georgia did not have that kind of time on its hands and had to enforce its new immigration laws in the strictest of ways to set a precedent. Once federal U.S. funds were cut off, that helped some, but still corporations were an issue, as well as Atlanta.
“Check them out”. The supervisor yelled as we crossed the road toward an area of suspect transactions and people. Which we were obligated to ask anyone at will for their new proof of citizenship and investigate their activities. We were to flush illegals, and anyone who did not meet the new qualifications out of Georgia.
“Hey, we are with the Immigration Patrol and…” I was interrupted by a string of language I did not understand. Victor spoke up trying to converse in what little Spanish he knew but he could not understand them either. An interpreter who was with us spoke up, conversing with the Hispanic crowd nervously glaring at us. At first, I assumed it was just the awkwardness of approaching them, but now I felt differently. Three of the men from the back took off for the woods, as another group of patrollers followed behind with German Shepherds. The seven who stayed stared for a second with stoic looks, and a tense moment of unknowingness followed.
A flash of movement in the periphery of my left eye concerned me, as I turned left something hit my left leg very hard as I hit the ground, and a ball of humanity had come together as if a Rugby match issued only the grunts were from injured men. As I tried to stand, my leg failed me and I went back down, crouched down I heard something approached me, I slung dirt that direction lunging with baton, and before I knew it I had landed on top of one of the suspected illegals and beat him with a vengeance. I had him subdued as, I really could not get up on my left leg well, but adrenaline had saved my hide.
I looked up and the seven were in our control, and four lay severely injured as well as the man I was still subduing in the dirt. Victor walked over as he and another cuffed the man, and helped me up,
“Are you okay?” Victor was concerned.
“Yeah, someone or something landed on my leg striking that nerve running up my leg, I couldn’t do anything”.
“Ralph, obviously you did,” Victor replied with a grin. The illegals, from what
I understood, were shipped to one of two places depending on offences or national origin, some remote islands off the Georgia coast, or a holding area in Valdosta. The immigration supervisor seemed pleased that none of us were seriously injured. As the ambulances came for the four Guatemalans, we realized that our investigators had found drugs in their bags. We knew something had been awry with their behavior. The cartels, and drug smugglers did not want to give up their markets. Anyone caught was deemed illegal under the new law, regardless of federal paperwork. Georgia could not afford compromise during this turbulent time.
Later that day we came upon a van with a Fulton County license plate. We were expected to cover a certain county that day, randomly searching and questioning as we had been given Georgia-backed authority to do. “Good afternoon, we are with the Georgia Immigration Patrol…” and as I spoke again interrupted this time by what I thought was a different tongue, and I had to radio for an interpreter who was in the vicinity. As the multitude of words I could not make out were continuously coming out of the lady’s mouth, and four rather large men were staring at me from behind her, I simply stayed calm and tried to make her calm. Three other patrollers were beside me and two of us had stepped nearly behind the four men.
The interpreter overhearing the talking on the radio, “sounds like Patois” had nearly came upon us in the jeep when, one of the large men started talking very aggressively. All of a sudden another one spoke up with a creole accent cussing us, “I hate white supremacy, you are racist! F--- ya’ll, and your rebel flag!”.
At that point Victor looked noticeably alarmed and my heart was racing, awaiting the inevitable. One of the men made the mistake of reaching for something and multiple shots rang out. Seconds later, there was one Haitian shot, and a mixture of Jamaicans and Haitians alive with their bellies down to the ground. We all felt grateful to be alive when we found a loaded .40 caliber Smith & Wesson in the dead man’s pocket. We later discovered the others had weapons as well, though they had given up without a fight. The supervisor sent men over to document everything. “They originally had green cards, and now are deemed five illegals from the Caribbean who had been in Fulton County. We're not sure if the vehicle is stolen…They were given plenty of notice in change of status …”.
I could hear them busily trying to gather information. I told Victor, “I want to go home.”
He looked up. “Me too. Me too," he replied, with a very sullen look on his face.
The next few weeks were hell. We did all we could to follow protocol and not get killed. The one month felt more like six. However, there was some good news. Local authorities were reporting that corporations were steadily deciding to work with the Coalition of Southern States (as they were called at the time, as there was not even enough progress for a new confederate form of government). Big business was discovering that Dixie would suffer no more of its abuse, and that if they wanted to maximize profit, they would have to work with us rather than against us! Newspapers were reporting strides being made in direction and camaraderie among the rural areas, especially with the Southern political front, slowly forging a more consistent and meaningful identity. The Southern revival was the backbone and drive of change.
When we finally loaded our things back unto a bus for home, we were glad to have served. Victor spoke up, “glad to get the hell out of there!" We were headed back to Rome, but we were nervously wrecked and tired, so the next couple of weeks were spent recuperating from fatigue and getting back to work at the hardware store.