GDG- In Defense of Peter
CWMHTours at aol.com
CWMHTours at aol.com
Wed Jan 4 15:38:35 CST 2012
Well thanks again George.
I guess I owe you a bowl of chili also. Damn... and I am trying to save
As a tour guide I don't believe some much in "educating" unless there is
some particular follow-up interest in a topic.
I prefer the word- not that I am completely comfortable with it-
The NPS should make indepth information and resources available but
basically should just stick with the facts and present them with the proper
priority and proportion.
I can sympathize with what good people there are at NPS. Most of them
There is an "existential" problem with "interpreting" the sites and parks.
If you are going to "present" them to the public you basically have to
pick and choose, almost capriciously.
A good example is the presentation at the Lincoln Mem. I do not know how
long I would go on "lecturing" about it but with school kids I am usually
wetting my pants about staying on schedule so I try to be brief. (We're
normally late when I don't have control of the tour.)
Some tourguides talk about the face of Jefferson Davis or Robert E Lee in
the hair on the back of Lincoln's head. I don't see no stupid face- just
hair. Some focus on the fact that there is a typo in the 2nd Inaurg Addr.
on the N wall. Some say the hands spell A.L. in deaf sign language.
Really? ..... So what....
I mention to the kids the 36 column- 36 states in 1865, 48 state names-
48 states in 1922. The marble. Then I tell them I could go on and on
(Which even I get tired of listening to.) but what is IMPORTANT, what they
should take away from the Memorial is written on the N and S walls. How, in the
2nd Inaurg he laid the plans for a peaceful forgiving resolution to the
end of the war. How Booth was 20 ft away in the crowd when he gave the
speech and because he wanted to give the right to vote to the black soldiers
and the "intelligent negro" Booth assassinated him. I tell them that I think
the nation would have been very very different had he lived. That it was
probably the most destructive single act in American history.
Then the Gettysburg Address... I tell them that the reason why it is
important is that Lincoln's speech reunited the Northern resolve and, by use of
the phrase, "dedicate and consecrate" over and over, changing it slightly
each time, and thus redefined the nation. We went from saying the United
States "ARE" to the United States "IS".
That is my beef with the NPS. The visitors only have so much time. The
focus at battlefields and sites should be on what is the most important.
What the facts are without distortion.
Sometimes I walk up inside the L Mem while my kids are in there. When I
see them actually reading the words on the wall I feel really good and I go
over and praise them.
I remember being 5 years old in 1956 and going to the Lincoln Memorial.
Your Most Obedient Servant,
In a message dated 1/4/2012 4:03:07 P.M. Eastern Standard Time,
georgeconnell at me.com writes:
Esteemed GDG Member Contributes:
I enter this particular discussion with considerable reluctance.
Peter's style is, at times, not easy to defend, but I certainly welcome
his enthusiasm, good cheer, knowledge, and generally provocative viewpoints.
Moreover, in this particular discussion I think he raises the interesting
substantive question of what should be "taught" at our national landmarks.
I don't think any of us would be happy with an over emphasis on one
particular aspect, but who decides that? I accept what Peter says about Arlington
based on his considerable personal experience and conclude that things may
be out of whack there.
I personally don't care for the presentation at the new Gettysburg
Visitors Center, but accept that other people do. At Gettysburg, I don't want to
be taught about causes; I want to see as many as possible of the park's vast
holding and at some level I resent anything that gets in the way.
Unrealistic? Sure. Some context is vital, but we'll never have a VC big enough to
provide all the context some want and show all the stuff. So what's the
I am also a little uncomfortable with the thought that the NPS needs to
"educate" the American public as opposed to just tell the story (though I'm
hard pressed to explain the difference). There's an elitist, Menkinist
undertone here I don't like.
Lastly, Peter has an almost-shorthand writing style that is unique,
sometimes perplexing, and occasionally irritating, but it's his and I say lighten
On Jan 4, 2012, at 1:58 PM, joadx1 at netscape.net wrote:
> Esteemed GDG Member Contributes:
> While intended as a light-hearted reply to a light-hearted attempt to
lower the temperature on this conversation, this message is indicative of a
certain subtext in your posts to this group. Since you may actually not be
aware of that subtext, I'll give you some hints.
> First, in this message you write "Damn that Bill Cosby," while insisting
that "You can't beat Patsy Cline and Willie Nelson when chili grease is
dribbling down your chin."
> Now, the former phrase is intended jocularly and literally, but taken in
a larger context it sends a message that you may not intend. Here is that
> 1. You insist upon misspelling Abraham Lincoln's name, even though Ms.
Margaret Blough (who is not only a senior member and director of this
discussion group but is also about as good an expert as there is on the
Constitutional history relevant to the Civil War) has asked you, politely, twice,
to stop doing that because it is disrespectful. It is disrespectful. Why
do you continue doing that?
> 2. You attribute language and motivations to Abraham Lincoln that other
senior members and experts on this site (like Mr. Al Mackey) have
> 3. You insist that you personally know what is most "important" about
Arlington Cemetery. That insistence is consistently voiced as a protest of
what you call the disproportionate attention to black Americans by the NPS.
As a number of thoughtful and well-informed messages to this list have
explained, given over a century of not only ignoring the slave-related part
of the American story but also of persecuting the freed slaves and their
descendants, the NPS, at the behest of the elected leaders of this country,
has been trying to redress the balance. Your protest of this is part of a
> Within such a context your Bill Cosby/Patsy Cline-Willie Nelson quips
assume a certain resonance, a resonance that is clearly apparent to a number
of the contributors to this discussion.
> To: gettysburg <gettysburg at arthes.com>
> Sent: Wed, Jan 4, 2012 10:33 am
> Subject: Re: GDG- Chilli in DC
> Esteemed GDG Member Contributes:
> Ha ha!
> You like Ben's?
> I think it is lousy and excessively over-rated. It is more of a
> than real chili.
> I'd go to Ben's for a chili half-smoke tho.
> I don't understand the attention Ben's gets. Damn that Bill Cosby!
> What about the Hard Times Cafe? That's pretty damn good. The
> any time. I'll eat the veggie too. Last time I was there some guy
> and bot up a whole mess of corn bread. All their juke boxes are good.
> You can't beat Patsy Cline and Willie Nelson when chili grease is
> down your chin.
> Any time- we'll go find John Grim too.
> ;-) !!!
> Your Most Obedient Servant,
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