There was a cookout in the Winston-Salem area on Saturday followed by a live band and party later that day. My thanks to Vernell and Vicky Miles for their hospitality and MUSIC!!!! Sunday was our more traditional reunion in Burlington given by the Willis family on Sunday. The food in Burlington has always been worth the trip from Washington. The southern cooking is enough to make you wonder why we live up north.
My family has a long and treasured history of family reunions. This has always been our most looked upon time of the year. To have people come in from all over the country to be with family is reason enough to do what you have to do to be there. It is a time to renew our commonality and get better acquainted with distance relatives. My family is so large that a lifetime is not enough to know everyone the way I want to . They all have something to add to enrich our lives. We are like a never ending book that gets closer to completion every reunion but stirs up more questions than answers.
We in the Miles Family are all from one great woman. My great-great mother Sallie Miles who lived to be 112 and was able to instill a sense of family that has carried on for the better part of two centuries. To get together for two days brings us closer to keeping her dream alive. I am proud that my relatives before me kept it alive because it gave me a sense of belonging that has made me who and what I am. Every family should have a reunion to pass on to the youth as they come into the world. Failure to do so will leave a void that may be filled in by potentially dangerous forces.
In every family there are people on the outside that don't feel as close as they should. For them the reunion is optional until they feel better and see it's importance. For the people responsible for it's continuity, we have to have a reunion worthy of people who may decide this year is the year to attend. It has been the work of some very dedicated people over a long period of time that has kept my family together.
I learned the value of family from my grandfather the late Lucien Miles. He would get excited at the mention of a Family Reunion. It was in his brother Nathaniel Miles's back yard in Walkertown, N.C. that I first became aware of the passion involved in family unity. That was in the early 1960's when we would crowd up and travel in any car that would start up. We didn't mind as long as we were together. The six hour trip from Washington DC to Walkertown seemed an eternity as the caravan of cars never seemed to stop coming over the hills of 85 south. These trips were the building blocks for the long term relationships that we still enjoy today as a family.
In my family it is an honor to host the reunion. It is done in a time honored way of raising your hand when asked "who gives the reunion next year" . Most of the time there are more than one person so respect and protocol kick in. My great uncle Nathaniel Miles who is now 86 years old showed that he is still running things by raising his hand to host next year's reunion. He has always lead by example and no one in the crowd opposed his desire to host it. He is showing that even after all these years his love for the Miles family is still going strong. With the support oh his children and the rest of the family, we look forward to the year 2000.
I wish everyone could feel the warmth generated by having the love of your family. The Black family today would be well advised to make reunions part of maintaining your family unity. It is an invaluable tool to keep you proud of your heritage. We must continue to reach out and encourage people to be family. It is one of the best ways to promote self esteem and leadership qualities in our culture.
Family reunions are your road maps from the past and your guides for the future.
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