“Revising” history? A new historical marker for Sherman’s March

A new historical marker has gone up in Atlanta, and it is raising questions about historical “revisionism” and how events in the past– especially destructive and emotionally-fraught events, such as Sherman’s March to the Sea– how remembered and memorialized, how they are — literally– set in stone for the future.  ALTJPATLANTA1-articleLarge

“There’s still a strong resentment for what happened and how it happened and for Sherman himself,” Dr. James C. Cobb said. “They want to whitewash everything and make it so much nicer than it was. It wasn’t nice. War isn’t.

“You all the time run into college kids who don’t know which side Sherman was on — and their parents and certainly their grandparents would be aghast to know that. It’s not just a matter of education. It’s a matter of being the blank slate that younger generations present for revision or education that older generations don’t because they’re steeped in the mythology of their ancestors.”

State’s fallen firefighters remembered in Capitol service

More than 200 Minnesota firefighters who died on the job will be honored in a day long memorial service at the state Capitol on Sunday.

The Pioneer Press reports this is the second year of the ceremony, held on the last Sunday of September, which is the state’s official day to honor its fallen firefighters. According to the Minnesota Fire Service Foundation, the names of the 208 Minnesota firefighters who died in the line of duty have are inscribed on columns on the Fallen Firefighter Memorial. The structure was constructed on the south side of the Capitol grounds last year.

Gov. Mark Dayton and firefighters from all over the state will be part of the gathering, as will families of those who are being honored for their sacrifice. KSTP reports that at least 30 members of one St Paul firefighter’s family plan to attend.

Southwest Patch has a schedule for the events of the day:

  • 10:45 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. – Non-denominational prayer service
  • Noon – Honor guard personnel will read the honor roll
  • 1:45 p.m. – Families enter the Capitol grounds and escorted to their seats.
  • 1:58 p.m. – Bells across Minnesota will ring to honor the state’s fallen firefighters.
  • 2 p.m. – Service begins and is scheduled to conclude at 3:30 p.m.

Civil Rights Justice on the Cheap

unveiling-2-460x345

This is a great and clearly angry essay on the memory of the Birmingham bombings 50th anniversary, and the pathetic inadequacy of erecting memorials to such horrors.

“We are more comfortable devoting civic resources to media events and monuments, like the life-size sculpture of the girls unveiled in Birmingham this week, than addressing the persistent casualties of the history being commemorated.”

via Civil Rights Justice on the Cheap – NYTimes.com.

Occupy Wall Street: The Two Year Anniversary

The Occupy Wall Street movement began two years ago yesterday (September 17th, 2011) at Zuccotti Park  in Manhattan.  News about the movement, its protests, violence, and arrests made headlines for over a year.  Occupy Wall Street’s purpose was to bring forth awareness and tackle “major systemic issues like corporate greed and inequality.”  Today, however, we hear little about the movement as it seems to have fizzled out.  Despite the lack of headlines about Occupy in the news in recent months, the movement had a great influence in America for several months and has historical significance today and in years to come.

http://money.cnn.com/2013/09/17/news/economy/occupy-wall-street-fizzled/index.html?source=cnn_bin

Why Occupy Wall Street fizzled out

“A Camelot nostalgia tour”– the coming deluge of JFK memory

The 50th anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy is coming up in November– on November 22nd, of course:  a date that any of us who are of “a certain age” can never NOT associate with that event.   This article from the New York Times provides a bit of a preview of the coming deluge of “products of memory” about Kennedy and Dallas and the assassination and the (maybe) conspiracy, and on and on.  Movies, books, TV documentaries, new exhibits, a revamped “Sixth Floor Museum” in Dallas.

JP-JFK-4-popup

“It’s amazing that Kennedy should have this extraordinary hold on the public’s imagination 50 years after,” said Robert Dallek, a historian, whose book “Camelot’s Court: Inside the Kennedy White House” is being released in October. “He’s the one president along with Reagan who gave people hope. It’s hope, it’s optimism, it’s the feeling that he could have made this a different world.”

I’m not sure that I agree that JFK’s “hold on the public imagination” is all that “amazing,” or that all of this attention in 2013 is evidence of that “hold.”  The attention comes, in large part, I believe, to the acceleration and intensity of public memory, the “memorial mania” that historian Erika Doss has recently written about.   The centennial of the Civil War received far less attention in the 1960s than the sesquicentennial is having in the present.  The 50th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic took place in 1962, and made barely a ripple compared to its centennial just last year.  For a whole book-full of reasons, memory is big business these days– and far more contentious than ever before.

This also has to do with Baby Boomers (of which I am one)– not only the immensity of their cohort, but the immensity of their self-regard.  If something momentous happened to US, it MUST be important, and MUST be remembered intensely.  For millions of boomers, the Kennedy assassination was the first and perhaps most blinding “flashbulb memory,” an event that took up permanent residence (and resonance) in our psyches.  We all remember “where we were” about noon on November 22, 1963.

 

 

Photography and the Vietnam War

An article in today’s Times about a new interest in the photography of the Vietnam War, through a new book and exhibitions.  We could note here, too, that the photograph here– soldiers in a jungle clearing near Hue, in April 1968– is one of the key images in The 1968 Exhibit, which just closed in Philadelphia and is on its way to the Missouri Historical Society in St. Louis (opens October 5, 2013).

05VIETNAM-articleLarge

“Now, amid a flurry of anniversary commemorations of that tumultuous era and a surge of interest in war photography, The A.P. has, for the first time, culled its estimated 25,000 Vietnam photographs and reprinted some 250 in a book, “Vietnam: The Real War,” with an introduction by Pete Hamill, to be published by Abrams on Oct. 1.”