GDG- NPS & slavery & Arl Cem
CWMHTours at aol.com
CWMHTours at aol.com
Wed Jan 4 23:16:37 CST 2012
Don't like Snickers. I like 3 Musketeers. In fact, love 'em. Put 'em in
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
There were military cemeteries all over the country before they even thot
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
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.
ALMOST EVERY TIME I HAVE EVER BEEN THERE THERE HAVE BEEN FRESH FLOWERS ON
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
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 aol.com writes:
Esteemed GDG Member Contributes:
In a message dated 1/4/2012 12:16:11 P.M. Eastern Standard Time,
CWMHTours at aol.com writes:
Esteemed GDG Member Contributes:
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. : )
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