GDG- NPS & slavery & Arl Cem

CWMHTours at CWMHTours at
Wed Jan 4 23:16:37 CST 2012

Don't like Snickers.  I like 3 Musketeers.  In fact,  love 'em.  Put 'em in 
the freezer.
If you want to immerse yourself in the subject of slavery in  the DC area 
both Harpers Ferry and Mt Vernon are great.  Mt Vernon is  excellent for 
exhibits on slave life.  In fact it is so fabulous that I  can't say enough good 
things about it.
The NPS at Harpers Ferry have done a great job on slavery,  UGRR, and John 
Browns Raid.  I love going there.
There are at least 100 mansions and plantations within 100 mi  of the axis 
of DC/Gtysbg where you can immerse yourself in slavery and the  Underground 
Don't give me links to sites, that I don't even know you've  even been to.  
You sit across a table from me and tell me all you know  about slavery in 
Arlington.  Without notes.
Or better yet, YOU take me on a tour of slavery in  Arlington.  For maybe 
3-5 hours.  You walk me around with no notes and  tell me the facts.
Because I can take YOU around for 3-4 hours on a tour of  Arlington 
focusing on slavery and heroes like Medgar Evers, the 2 B. O. Davis's,  Chappie 
James, and others.
I can walk the walk and I can talk the talk.  
Apparently you would rather snipe at me and give me archive  links like I 
couldn't find them on my own.
Let me see you stop sniping and walk the walk and talk the  talk.  I would 
have a higher regard for your comments if you did.   When people "refute" my 
positions I need to see evidence.
Have you ever even heard of Chappie James?  Etc?  Et  all?
The MOST IMPORTANT thing to take away from Arlington National  Cemetery is 
not that it was a plantation with slaves.
Repeat,  the MOST IMPORTANT thing about Arlington  National Cemetery is NOT 
that it was a plantation with slaves.
There were 100s of those around the region.
THE MOST IMPORTANT THING, Al- and please, finally  get this right-  it is 
the first National Military Cemetery out of  other preceding cemeteries 
intended as a National Shrine to the Nation's  Military deceased.
Do you get that, Al?  It is the first National Shrine  dedicated to our 
military veterans and their families.
THAT is the most important thing.  
Not the graves of the Custis families, not the Freedmans  section, not 
Robert E. Lee, not Montgomery Meigs, not etc etc etc.  Not  Bull Halsey or Wild 
Bill Donovan.
There were military cemeteries all over the country before  they even thot 
about Arlington.
Thru a long convoluted almost careless meandering our nation  has created 
one of the most beautiful places on our continent.
THAT is the focus.  Not slavery.  Go to Mt Vernon  where they have real 
exhibits that go into it or H Ferry.
When you walk along the paved roads in the cemetery you see  cars with big 
passes in their windows.  Those are families.  They are  visiting their lost 
family members.  Fathers. Mother. Uncles. Aunts.   Brothers. Sisters.
Daughters and sons....
Civilians who went to work in the Pentagon a few feet away  from their 
graves (Sect 60) who went to another day of boring work and by noon  they were 
I live here, pretentiously calling  myself a  historian.  On the morn of 
9/11 I went thru a long ride on the subway,  stupid to do with terrorism. and 
walked along the riverbank from Rosslyn.  Federal Protective Service agents- 
police, had barricaded Arl Cem and guarded it  with heavy weapons.
I got down to 500-1000 ft of the Pentagon and when I was there  the flames 
were still at least 50 ft high at noon.  I was probly there 2-4  hours with 
no food and feeling pretty sick.
Today I can ride on the freeway past the same spot  where I stood that day 
with not a cloud in the sky.  You look on one  side and there is the new 
Memorial outside the crash spot.  Look the other  way and way off in the 
distance is a big ol' black thing.
Go into the cemetery and see the  black thing.  It is a big black granite 
pentagon.  It lists the names  of the Americans who were killed in that 
attack.  Beside it in 3 rows of  graves are about 20 Pentagon attack victims each 
totaling around 60.  There  are ALWAYS fresh flowers to be found.  You can 
stand there and see where I  stood while there was a 50 foot high orange 
flame blazing away on  9/11.
I wish I didn't have to talk about it when I do my tours but I  have to 
take people past the Pentagon and tell them what happened.  I  usually have an 
upset stomach.  I try to point out the black granite in the  cemetery.
I had a few years ago a girlfriend whose father was a captain  in the Navy. 
 He died and is buried not far from the black pentagon.   Fought in WW II 
and was regarded as a hero by his proud family.  I was  there for the burial. 
 Not far away is the captain of the USS  Miller.
The Miller was a Fletcher-class destroyer in the Pacific in WW  II.  There 
was a huge Essex-class aircraft carrier named the USS Benjamin  Franklin at 
the battle of Okinawa. It got hit by a kamikaze and a huge black  plume of 
smoke shot up high into the sky.  How many young American boys  were blown 
into infinity in those seconds I don't know.
I have seen that newsreel of the Franklin exploding like that  maybe 1000s 
of times.  The first ship to arrive to aid the Franklin was the  USS Miller. 
 They turned fire hoses on the ship and jumped over to  help.  She is in 
the newsreels.
In the 90s I was priveleged to be the tour escort for the  reunion of the 
crew.  They were all pretty damned old.  I had been  with them, quite 
honored, for a day or two, and they wanted to go visit their  captain's grave near 
the black granite.  I went.  A lot of them, 80  years old, were crying.
One of my favorite graves is Robert Dean Stethem.  Buried  in Sect 59 (I 
think).  In 1983 his plane was hijacked by terrorists.   He was a very young 
scuba diver for the Navy.  The terrorists took his I.D.  and found out he was 
a serviceman.  He resisted their attacks on him and  finally they shot him 
in the head and threw him out the plane where his body lay  in the hot sun 
on the tarmac for a couple of days.
He's not far from victims of the Beirut  Marine  bombing attack.
I ALWAYS try to take my friends with me to go see him.   He has one of the 
few permanent  bronze flower vases in the  cemetery.  For decades his Mother 
has gone into the cemetery twice a week  to bring him fresh flowers.  I go 
see him a lot.  I talk to him  like I talk to many graves.  I have been to 
his grave a couple of hundred  times, if only to say hi and ask him how he is 
doing.  Sometimes there are  pebbles on his headstone.  Sometimes I pray.  
HIS GRAVE.  His Mother for  decades, after moving to DC to be close to 
Robert, goes down every Sunday and  every Wednesday and leaves fresh flowers on 
his grave.  Only once have I  ever seen dried up old flowers.  They ALWAYS are 
People don't understand that this special shrine is a place  not of Death 
but of Life.
In making this National Shrine we have said to ourselves, and  the World, 
that military service- and sacrifice- in the name of our country  is one of 
the most noble things you can do in Life.
We hold the Cemetery up also of a shining beacon of patriotism  and 
People travel the world to come see their loved ones and I  have 
accompanied way too many mourners to be uncaring when I go with them to the  grave of 
their relative.
I've been to too many funerals in the Cemetery.  One is  too many. 
Had another girlfriend in 2004 whose nephew was killed in  a Stryker 
vehicle- 2nd Div.  A sergeant.  A kid I never met.  One  more funeral in 
The Cemetery is a place of rebirth and rejuvenation and  nobility.  Not 
stagnant immobile Death.  A place where visitors from  all over the world come 
to LEARN about the sacrifice of National Service  and how OUR COUNTRY, 
UNIQUE IN THE WORLD, has created a unique special spot that  says "This is Noble. 
 This is the highest honor."
Now Al, if you think it is MORE IMPORTANT to ram slavery down  people's 
throats  when they are in Arlington then here's what I want you to  do.  You 
stand at the entrance of the cemetery and every time you see  a car with a 
family in it with the big pass on the dashboard there to visit  their mother or 
grandfather I want you to flag their car down, stop it, stick  your head in 
the window, and tell them that there were slaves on the cemetery  and they 
should go visit the exhibit behind the Mansion.
Will that make you happy?
A National Shrine dedicated to all military services or a  meager slave 
Arlington National Cemetery is most of all a National Shrine  dedicated to 
the memory of ALL Americans who served their country, maybe getting  
themselves killed to save their friends, or maybe simply just being a mail clerk  
in Korea like actor James Garner.
If you want to twist that into a lesson on the evils of  slavery, well, be 
glad that I am not your God.......
Your  Most Obedient Servant,

In a message dated 1/4/2012 10:15:11 P.M. Eastern Standard Time,  
ATMackeyJr at writes:

Esteemed  GDG Member Contributes:

In a message dated 1/4/2012 12:16:11 P.M.  Eastern Standard Time,  
CWMHTours at  writes:

Esteemed  GDG Member Contributes:
OK Al-

YOU  tell me about the 200 slaves  living at  Arlington  Cemetery.
But you're not interested, Peter.   You've been very clear you don't  
consider them "important"  enough.

If you  want to be an expert and complain then  you step up to  the plate 
tell me all about the 200  slaves.
Fortunately, the NPS can do a good  job:


And Arlington  Cemetery:


Some other sources  include:


And some professional  historians:



And The  Smithsonian:


And  even  amateurs:


I only know about two of them  specifically.  One  whose  name, I think, 
Selena was a  "house  slave".  A  servant of Mary C  Lee.  She  stayed 
when Mary went south  and tried to keep the  Yankees  from destroying the 
mansion when they  occupied the  place.  Oddly enough, I  haven't heard of 
she  is  buried.  Haven't heard that she is buried in  the   cemetery.

The other is a slave named, I think, John.  He was   born  on the 
and is buried in it.  Over by the  Seneca  Creek sandstone  wall next to Ft 
Myer where there is no  gravel  road.

That's about all I  know.

Check out Wesley Norris, his sister,  and his cousin.

The  slaves at Arlington, like slaves  all over this country,  have a story 
that is, for the most  part, LOST.

I am not aware of anyone writing  a book on the story  of the  slaves at 

Well,  there IS a 1960 Harvard  thesis:


Yes, 200  people were slaves.  Do  you think we should  spend the WHOLE 

talking about them at  the deletion of the  others?

If so, good  for you.   Because that is the NPS program at  Arlington.

200  slaves  have their place.  They should be talked about  and pointed   

I think it borders on rascism when the NPS MANDATES that  you   talk about 
slaves and "relatively obscure"  African-Americans in way that  takes  up 
you could be  using to talk about MORE IMPORTANT   PEOPLE.
Obviously you don't think African  Americans are important.  To each  his  

Yes, I think Bull Halsey, Charles Wilkes,  and Bruce Van   Voorhees are 
significant than the first  black female Tomb  Guard.  I'd  rather talk 

Why wasn't it  MANDATED that we also talk about  American  Indians, like 
Hayes,  Latinos and  Asians?

You have to getting the message I hope.

Is  it  finally sinking in?  The NPS places a higher  PRIORITY on  slavery  
African-Americans at the expense of other races  and   topics.

Dig that?  I've seen  it.


Peter, are you hungry?   Have a Snickers.  : )


Best Regards,
Al  Mackey

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