Sunday, July 11, 2010

Celebrating Independence Day 2010

R and I were glad to have chosen a small town to celebrate the Fourth of July. We could have been in AnySmallTown, USA. Its citizens were "down home" type, full of southern hospitality. And it isn't "put on". Tourist shops line the town's square, a variety found in most small towns. The square anchored by a large building once the city hall. The town is Dahlonega, GA. Never heard of it?

First, it is pronounced Duh LON e guh (note how easy to speak southern?); second, it is the gateway to the Appalachian Mountains, the beginning of the Appalachian Trail nearby, so you see a lot of hikers and bikers; third, it's an hour's drive north from Atlanta on State Highway 19; and fourth, it is near the site of the first U. S. gold rush in the 19th century.

All it took for the rush was a farmer kicking up a clod of dirt and recognizing the gold sparkles. This was on Cherokee Georgia land of Araria. Within 24 years Araria was growing with prosperous mines circling the town, and finally a mint being established in Dahlonega to convert the gold flakes into coins. The city hall, now the Gold Museum, presents a video chronicling those early days, along with displays of early coins and history in photos and writings. The building was constructed of hand-made bricks from area dirt and a close look at any brick reveals gold flakes. Nearby a chapel at the Northern Georgia University and College sporting a gold leaf roof, beckoning cars from the highway to come sit a spell in Dahlonega.

For two people who labored for five days learning new jewelry techniques, the square with its myriad of benches was a welcome sight. Sunday, the fourth, we sat in the shade of a building's overhang, feeling a light breeze as a church choir sang selections from WWII, the U. S. flag was raised, politicians stood in the sun giving their prepared speeches, and the reading of the Constitution. In the late afternoon visitors and citizens watched a colorful parade. Just what you'd expect in a small town.

Nothing makes most citizens more proud than to participate in the celebration of our independence from England. The most touching in Dahlonega were the white crosses listing deceased soldiers from the area who died defending their country. Patriotism and love of our country couldn't have been more visible.

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