GDG- NPS & slavery & Arl Cem

ATMackeyJr at ATMackeyJr at
Thu Jan 5 17:26:41 CST 2012

Well, Peter, if you prefer 3 Musketeers, then I suggest two or three of  
them.  You sound really, really hungry.
Best Regards,
Al Mackey
In a message dated 1/5/2012 12:17:09 A.M. Eastern Standard Time,  
CWMHTours at writes:

Esteemed  GDG Member Contributes:
Don't like Snickers.  I like 3  Musketeers.  In fact,  love 'em.  Put 'em 
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  

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,  
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"  
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 
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 
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 
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 

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. 
walked along the riverbank from Rosslyn.  Federal  Protective Service 
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 
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 
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 
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 
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  
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 
scuba diver for the  Navy.  The terrorists took his I.D.  and found out he 
a  serviceman.  He resisted their attacks on him and  finally they shot  
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 
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 
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 

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 
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 
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 
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.  
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 
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  
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  
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 
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 

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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