Chattanooga, Tennessee, is a shining star among cities in the heart of this country-loving girl. When I was a girl, our family obeyed the instructions on barn roof after barn roof which told us to “See Rock City,” an old tourist attraction in Chattanooga. In fact, Rock City is the scene of one of the only dreams I remember from my childhood: I met the three bears in its “Fairyland Cavern.”
As I’ve told you before, Ray and I spent our honeymoon at the Chattanooga Choo Choo. In our homeschooling years, we went on field trips to the Tennessee Aquarium. Just a few weeks ago, we were riding the carousel and playing in the fountain with three of our grandchildren at Coolidge Park. I told you about that, too. Actually, I checked to see how many times I have mentioned Chattanooga in these posts and came up with seven times.
Chattanooga was our destination again last Thursday. We had just finished our several day visit with Bethany and her family after little Maria’s birth and were scheduled to meet Notgrass History staffers Michelle, Ethan, and Conner in Chattanooga to set up our booth for the Chattanooga-Southeast Tennessee Home Education Association curriculum fair last weekend.
Ray and I stopped to have lunch just a few minutes before arriving in Chattanooga when he noticed a story on the television that was on in the restaurant. When we figured out that military facilities in Chattanooga had been attacked, we immediately called Michelle, Ethan, and Conner to tell them to stop the van, turn around, and head away from Chattanooga a little way until we could find out more about what was going on. We certainly didn’t want them driving into harm’s way.
They had not heard anything about the trouble, but, as it turned out, they were on the very highway where one of the shootings had occurred. They immediately saw police cars ahead. While they spent the next hour and a half in a grocery store parking lot, they saw more police activity than usual.
News was coming in very slowly from the sources we could find on our phones. We called John in Missouri, so that he could search for information on his laptop. He also called the curriculum fair organizer who said things were safe there and that plans were going on as usual.
A restaurant staffer told us he wasn’t allowed to turn on the sound on the restaurant television. That seemed like a pretty silly rule under the circumstances in a sparsely-populated restaurant after the peak lunch hour. We drove down the street to a hotel and went into the lobby. One of those lobby televisions that I usually find so annoying became a blessing that afternoon.
We watched a local television station while their news announcers gave the information they had. The announcers were waiting for a press conference that was to be held at 2:00 p.m. While we waited for the news conference, we learned about the deaths of the four Marines. Finally, the mayor, the chief of police, the U.S. district attorney, and the FBI agent responsible for the investigation held the news conference about 3:00 p.m. They gave a lot of information, answered questions, and assured the public that Chattanooga was in no more danger then that it had been before the shootings took place.
Michelle, Ethan, and Connor were scheduled to do that conference mainly by themselves after Ray and I helped them set up. We gave them the option of going home and forgetting the whole thing. They all wanted to stay. I drove down with a friend on Friday to spend several hours while Ray stayed at home with my Mother. The curriculum fair went along pretty much as always. Their attendance was down about 8% they said, but this conference fluctuates like that from year to year anyway. It was really a great fair, as it always is. I love visiting with you homeschooling mamas. It was an encouraging day.
When Fred Rogers (of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood fame) was a little boy, he and his mother talked about how to handle it when bad things happen. She told him to look for the heroes. I was very impressed with the Chattanooga police department. They arrived at the site of the second shooting not long after the killer and they stopped him from killing more people than he did. I am humbled and amazed at how military personnel and police officers and fire fighters and rescue workers and ambulance drivers and many other public servants put their lives on the line for all the rest of us.
I like Mrs. Rogers’ advice (she’s the one who knitted all those sweaters Mr. Rogers took out of his closet) about looking for the heroes.
The greatest Hero Who ever lived was Jesus Who put His life on the line for everyone.
We know love by this,
that He laid down His life for us.
1 John 3:16