Old Long Since
As we greet 2024, look fondly (but briefly) backward. Then seek your sources of hope, because hope has no end.
“Old long since.” When you gather with your family, friends, and/or folks who just showed up at the party to ring in 2024, you should remember those three words. You’ll be signing them at midnight.
“Old long since” is the English translation of “Auld Lang Syne,” a song written (in Scots dialect) by Robert Burns, the immortal Scottish poet, in the late 1700s.
The song begins with a question: should we forget our old acquaintances and leave them in the past, never again to bring them to mind? The implied answer, of course, is no, absolutely not. We remember those we’ve lost, and raise a glass to them and what they gave us. Then we welcome the new year in the hope it will be better than the one before.
So, as we let the collard greens and black-eyed peas simmer in pork stock come Monday, we will trust—despite any suggestions to the contrary—that 2024 will bring us some reasons to hope. Thus, this weekend, we greet the new year by reviving two stories about hope. The first is the very first piece we ever published: “But I Have Hope,” written by someone without whom there would be no Salvation South, retired U.S. Marine Corps Lieutenant Colonel Russell Worth Parker. The second is “Hope Is a Place,” by our frequent contributor, Marianne Leek—the only writer who has achieved the Salvation South trifecta, publishing nonfiction, fiction, and poetry in our pages. Marianne’s story came from an interview in 2021 with the eighty-seven-year-old David Burch.
As we prepared to bring this story back to you, we checked in with David’s family and learned that he is enjoying spending time with his five grandkids and thirteen great-grandchildren. And the entire Burch family, which, as you can see from the picture on this page, has grown quite large, is looking forward to celebrating David's ninetieth birthday with him in March. That’s David in a red shirt and black vest, seated with a great-grandson on his lap, at left.
We hope these stories help you cause to greet the new year hopefully. Because hope is important. Looking for some astute words about hope, we dove into a book called Strength to Love, a collection of sermons by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and found this line, which we’d never read before:
“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”
Hope is infinite. We like that. We wish you a new year filled with it.
Chuck Reece is the co-founder and editor-in-chief of Salvation South, the weekly web magazine you're reading right now. He was the founding editor of The Bitter Southerner. He grew up in the north Georgia mountains in a little town called Ellijay.