Kerrville, Texas. Sunday April 16
Saturday April 15
Bombs and Blossoms, the theme of the last two days. We drove to Fredericksburg, 30 minutes away, and home to a German community that immigrated to Texas before the Civil War. Germans constitute one of the largest European immigrant groups in Texas, and the Texas Hill Country was one of the major destinations for them. Germans left their homeland due to inheritance laws that gave all family land to the eldest son, due to crop failures, and religious oppression.
The Nimitz family was part of that German immigrant wave. From the Nimitz’ family tree sprang Chester Nimitz who was the Admiral serving as Commander-in-Chief Pacific after the Japanese attached Pearl Harbor. Fredericksburg is home to a fantastic National Museum of the Pacific War which started as a museum honoring Admiral Nimitz.
Chester Nimitz’ dad died a few months before he was born in 1885 and his grandfather was a major male influence in his life. The grandfather’s tales of life on the sea sparked an interest in the military and Chester tried to obtain an appointment to West Point (free tuition too). All of the Texas appointments had been made but he was told there were still appointments available for the Naval Academy. He went for it, and diligently studying, he got the appointment and passed the entrance exam.
Nimitz made a name for himself early, one of the first to promote the submarine service. (Yes, they had them back then.) We worked his way up over the years, and Roosevelt tapped him as the Chief for the Pacific War. During the war, titles changed and two other areas were carved out for separate command; for instance, so Douglas McArthur could command the Philippines area. However, Nimitz was the person who led the combined military forces of the Allies to victory over Japan in WWII.
The museum has a new 33,000 square foot gallery to go with the old Nimitz hotel which displays Nimitz family memorabilia. The new gallery uses large display boards, videos, personal testimony, computer kiosks, and battle graphics to retrace the causes, conduct, and legacy of the war. The amount of information is overwhelming. One excellent element of the museum was the significant allocation of exhibit space to the causes leading up to World War II in Asia. I walked away reflecting on the role face, poor economies, military dominance over civilian rule, ancient feuds between countries, and the development of national self-myths have in encouraging people to support wars.
The Pacific Theater is detailed campaign by campaign. The fighting was influenced by the Japanese unwillingness to surrender, making the casualty tolls high for limited land space captured. As in many events in life, luck, poor decisions, and mistakes play a crucial role, not just heroics, good planning, coordination, etc.
The rest of the day was spent in Fredericksburg. The Vereins Kirche Museum illustrates the history of the German immigrants in Fredericksburg. The museum mentions Sunday houses, small houses built by farmers in Fredericksburg so farm families could shop on Saturday and worship on Sunday before returning to the farms the rest of the week. The German immigrants reversed their living practice from Germany; in Germany they lived in towns and walked out to the farms daily. In America, they lived on the farms and came to the towns to shop and worship.
The drive to and from Fredericksburg from Kerrville only takes 30 minutes, we enjoyed wildflowers along the roads as part of our day’s activities.
Sunday, April 16. Easter Sunday
We slept in and went to 11 AM Mass in Kerrville. As part of the introductions, visitors were asked to stand and state where they were from. Chris mentioned we were from Minnesota. The woman up front of course said: “Great, from Minnesota-o-o-ta” trying to replicate the Scandinavian accent. After Mass, a guy came up to me and introduced himself; he had been a city manager in Shoreview MN and his son still lives around Cretin High School.
The rest of the day was driving. We thought we had seen wildflowers before but today’s crop was overwhelming. Red and yellow were the predominant colors from the artist’s palette but blues, whites, and purples were also present. We drove north from Fredericksburg along 495 to Llano, then east to Burnet, south to Marble Falls and back to Llano and Fredericksburg. It was stunning; it rivaled the wildflowers we saw at Revelstoke National Park in British Columbia and at Mount St. Helen’s in Washington State. Miles upon miles of multi-colored hues along the shoulders of the roads. Unfortuantely, most roads had absolutely no shoulder and a speed limit of 70 mph. Well,maybe it was alright or I would have been stopping constantly to shoot more pictures. Once again the sky was gray and overcast or the pictures would be more vibrant. It was a great way to end our time in the Hill Country and to enjoy God’s beauty on Easter Sunday.
Dinner was at a German restaurant (what else?) in Fredericksburg,
Video of wildflowers
Ed and Chris. April 16