Epitaph–April 9, 1865

📅 April 9, 2020

On April 9.1865 the Civil War ended. In honor of that occasion, here is a piece, written many years ago for my final project in a graduate class on the Civil War and Reconstruction.

He stepped into the clearing, leaned his ax against a tall tree, and breathed deeply.

“This is the place,” he told his wife. “This is where we’ll build our house.”

His wife smiled, thinking, We’ve tried so many places before. She touched her hand to his careworn face, glancing at the battle scars on his strong arms.

“Yes. Maybe this time we will succeed.”

So he set to work with his wife by his side. Soon the foundation was laid and the house framed. On the newly erected walls his wife hung a sampler embroidered with their names.

This is the home of


Soon Liberty and Justice were blessed with children. Their firstborn son, Courage, was followed by a brother named Endurance and gentle sisters named Honor and Charity.

But one day a stranger, ragged and ravenous, knocked on their door and asked for a place in the home. He should have been turned away, but Liberty wavered. What harm could there be in taking him in? There was so much to do—an extra pair of hands, no matter how filthy, would lighten the load.

So Slavery joined the family.

Each passing day new flaws revealed themselves. His hungry scowl and odious conduct worsened. He grew so strong that one day, he defied Liberty and threatened to destroy the family who had taken him in.

They fought—and the walls of the house shook with the force of their blows, but held firm. When finally the battle was over, the intruder lay dead at Liberty’s feet.

Liberty and his sons buried Slavery and erected a marker for his grave. They chiseled there no words of praise—only a solemn reminder to future generations.


A house divided against itself cannot stand.


  1. katherine wells

    Heartwarming very well written thank you for sharing..

  2. Jean Bowman

    Very poignant and relevant.

    • Holly Bebernitz

      Thanks, Jean. I was glad this anniversary came on a Thursday, so I could “think back” on it.

  3. Frances

    Great word picture of a complex problem. Thank God we are free indeed.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Holly Bebernitz

Native Texan Holly Bebernitz moved to Jacksonville, Florida in 1967. After thirty years of teaching speech, English, and history on the secondary and college levels, she retired from classroom teaching to become a full-time grandmother. The change in schedule allowed the time needed to complete the novel she had begun writing in 1998. When Trevorode the Defender was published in March 2013, the author realized the story of the Magnolia Arms was not yet complete.


Semi-Finalist - 2021 Royal Palm Literary Award Competition - Florida Writer's Association