Friday, January 6, 2012

The Great Atlanta Trip 2011: Visiting Jimmy Carter, Martin Luther King, Ellen Wilson and James Frazier

 Four hours in a car is a long time for anyone….especially a one year old….but Major was a total champ and as we pulled into the parking lot of the Jimmy Carter Library and Museum in Atlanta, Georgia, I was excited that he and Amber were both there with me and was anxious to get inside and take in the life and career of our 39th President. 

After the trip to see Santa, Major was ready to get out of town for a while as well
 A few days before, Amber and I had decided that we needed to get away for a day. We both had time off over the holidays and, as you tend to do when you have time off, we had filled the bulk of it with the mundane tasks of home ownership and the joyous to and fro of Christmas, both of which had left us completely tired.  Christmas with Major was absolutely fantastic and we decided that the good times needed to continue rolling and what better way to do that than with a last minute, ill conceived, poorly planned road trip?! 
IKEA Atlanta

 Living in Nashville, we are with-in easy driving distance of Memphis, Atlanta, Louisville, Chattanooga, and Knoxville but only one of these has the ultimate draw for Amber, IKEA.  So with little discussion, I was online booking a hotel in Atlanta.  Being a tad bit into History, I, of course, knew that not only was Jimmy Carter’s Library located in Downtown Atlanta but that the Martin Luther King tomb, museum and Ebenezer Baptist Church were all there as well, and after just a minute of research I discovered that they were located less than two miles apart.  I also began looking at Tennessee’s Governors that might be buried along our path and discovered one in Chattanooga, which you pass through on your way to Atlanta. So between my history sites and Amber’s trip to IKEA and the hotel booked we were ready to roll…….until Major came down with a little bug and we had to cancel the hotel and instead make a trip to the pediatrician’s office. Four days later, with Major fully recovered and ready to rock again we rebooked our hotel and we were on our way….

Major and I outside of the Carter Library & Museum
The Jimmy Carter Library and Museum is located just outside of downtown Atlanta in what appears to be a quiet little neighborhood.  Having visited 4 other Presidential Libraries and Museums, I have to say that the Carter location is a bit underwhelming, not to say it isn’t good, but Carter’s administration in comparisons to those of Truman, Eisenhower, Regan and even Nixon, just isn’t that interesting. Having said that I would highly recommend anyone visit that might be in the area or interested in the lives and/or careers of the Presidents.  A large percentage of the Museum is dedicated to Carter’s post-presidency life, which has been, arguably, much more impressive than his political career and has seen him win the Nobel Peace Prize, which is on display at the end of the museum tour.  You walk away from the library with a deep sense that Carter is, as he portrayed himself in his campaigns, a fine, decent, admirable and honest man. 
Tomb of Martin Luther King, Jr, and Coretta Scott King
 The Martin Luther King, Jr. Historical Sites are a very short drive from the Carter Museum and include a Museum, Birth Home, Center for Non-Violent Social Change, Ebenezer Baptist Church and the final resting place of King and his wife, Coretta Scott King.  Being short on time we decided to head straight for the tombs, in order to insure that we had time to take it in properly. Having been to the final resting places of many of this nation’s greatest leaders, I have to say that standing at the tomb of Martin Luther King, a feeling of standing near greatness came over me that I have rarely felt before. The same can be said for the very well preserved Ebenezer Baptist Church, where King ‘s father was pastor and where he was baptized, preached his first sermon and was, until his death, co-pastor. 
Eternal Flame located near the King Tomb
 After a trip to IKEA and a good night’s sleep we were up and ready to head home the next day.  For the trip home I had planned two stops:
View from the top at Myrtle Hill Cemetery, Rome, GA
The first was in Rome, GA, to visit Myrtle Hill Cemetery, which is the final resting place of Woodrow Wilson’s first wife and for a little over a year of his term the First Lady of the United States, Ellen Wilson.  Of all of the cemeteries I have ever visited, Myrtle Hill is easily one of the most amazing as the whole of the cemetery sits on a very steep hill. While Woodrow is buried in D.C. with his second wife, Ellen rests next to her father and other kin in a very serene peaceful plot. 
Ellen Wilson's Grave
The last stop on our journey was to Forest Hills Cemetery located just outside of downtown Chattanooga and is the final resting place of James B. Frazier, the 33rd Governor of Tennessee, and my 24th Governor visit of the year.  Interestingly, I had been to Forest Hills Cemetery just four years earlier when my great uncle, Dudley Merritt, was laid to rest there. 

 Name: James Beriah Frazier
Birth: 18 October 1856
Death: 28 March 1937
Age at Death:
80 years, 5 months and 10 days old
Interment: Forest Hills Cemetery, Chattanooga, TN
Term in Office: January 19, 1903 – March 21, 1905
Political Party: Democrat

James Beriah Frazier was born on October 18, 1956 in Bledsoe County, TN.  Graduating from the University of Tennessee at the age of 21, he would be admitted into the bar in 1881, and open a law practice in Chattanooga.  In 1902, he was elected Governor, and would be greatly admired for the strides he would make in improving education and for working to regulate mining in order to make it safer for workers. Reelected in 1904, he would only serve a few months of his second term before the death of former Governor, William Bate, who would leave an open seat in the United States Senate, where he was serving at the time of his death. Frazier would retire the governorship in order to take this vacated seat and would serve there until 1911.  Following his time in the senate, he returned to Chattanooga where he would continue to practice law until his death in 1937.