GDG- In Defense of Peter

CWMHTours at CWMHTours at
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 
money, too.
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 
mean well.
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 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 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 
definitively refuted.
> 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>
> Sent: Wed, Jan 4, 2012 10:33 am
>  Subject: Re: GDG- Chilli in DC
> Esteemed GDG Member  Contributes:
> Ben's?
> 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 
came in 
> 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,
> Peter
----------------  -to unsubscribe
> for  Archives

  -to unsubscribe for  Archives

More information about the Gettysburg mailing list