BLOG, or DIE. Author Bio
Friday, 5 February 2010
I didn't know that...or that.
As I continue to immerse myself in as much Revolutionary War material as I can, my latest train-companion has been found in a remarkable book titled General George Washington: A Military Life by Edward G. Lengel. According to Booklist, “Lengel is a Washington scholar who chronicles his checkered military career, linking events from Washington's humiliation by the French at Fort Necessity in 1754 to victory with the French at Yorktown in 1781 with evaluations about Washington's ability on every occasion.” Although the study is presented as a standard, military biography, this author has dug deeper to examine the man behind the uniform.
From the beginning we are introduced to a young colonel named George Washington who is an ambitious and overly-sensitive soldier, somewhat unsure of his ability to lead, but confident in his own convictions. From there we witness his rise to greatness. So far, I have found Lengel’s research to be thorough, and his writing style to be both educational and entertaining. I have really enjoyed learning about Washington’s journey from citizen – to soldier – to supreme commander. I’m only about ¼ through the book and my own assumptions and interpretations of the man have already changed as Lengel has made Washington human.
One facet of the General’s story that has surprised me is the large amount of time that he spent in and around the Pittsburgh area. From land surveying and speculation, to forming alliances and fighting hostiles, Washington and his men traveled to the rolling hills of western Pennsylvania time and time again. Thanks to Mr. Lengel, I must now admit my shame as I apparently paid very little attention to my hometown’s heritage. Growing up, I wasn’t completely oblivious to Pittsburgh’s part in America’s story. As a child, I had visited Fort Pitt and Fort Ligonier and was aware of the ‘role’ the three rivers played in the Revolution and French and Indian War. As an adult, I have visited the Heinz Museum’s exhibits dealing with the earliest settlers and the Lewis and Clark Expedition. That said, I was, and remain, woefully ignorant of the region’s legacy.
As a result I am now planning to make a point to visit and/or revisit as many colonial-era sites as I can in future visits back home. Just as my residence in Fredericksburg leaves me surrounded by Civil War history that has found its way into my work, I am hoping that Pittsburgh will become a similar inspiration. When I made that decision to formally change my period of study, I had no idea it would take me back to where I started. I will be sure to take plenty of photographs and share my observations here in the future.
For my friend (and Patriots of the American Revolution’s new book review editor) Eric Wittenberg, I have agreed to review a new book on Thomas Jefferson. After that I hope to follow-up my Monticello piece with another feature article, perhaps something on General George Washington and his exploits in and around Pittsburgh. I love learning.
Tuesday, 2 February 2010
I know I am late coming to this party but
…this is the best thing I’ve ever seen.
Monday, 1 February 2010
UPDATE: National Civil War Life Museum
As promised, here is the highly-anticipated update on the state of the National Civil War Life Foundation. This press release comes following our board meeting last night and was submitted to The Free Lance-Star. In the coming months, several new fund-raising measures will be announced. I will be updating the Foundation's website to reflect the museum's new temporary location later this week. The most significant change is that Fredericksburg is now our intended destination, not Spotsylvania.
For Immediate Release (2/1/2010): On January 31, the board for the National Civil War Life Foundation held their first meeting of 2010. The purpose of this session was to address the changes that had occurred in recent months and to initiate planning for the coming year.
In December of 2009, Terry Thomann, Director of the Civil War Life Soldier’s Museum, relocated his facility from the Massaponnax region of Spotsylvania County to the historic district in the City of Fredericksburg. Currently, Mr. Thomann is displaying a small portion of artifacts within his new gift shop at 829 Caroline Street. The Foundation intends to establish a new museum in the Fredericksburg area that will accommodate Mr. Thomann’s entire collection of over 2,000 items and host a variety of special exhibits including the Civil War in 3D Photography show.
The National Civil War Life Foundation’s mission remains “To operate a national museum and research center that preserves and interprets the human story of the American Civil War and connects the lives of all people of that era to the nation today.” Terry Thomann and Acting Chairman Michael Aubrecht are leading the effort to develop a new business plan for the Foundation to implement in the very near future.
The Foundation continues to focus on supporting education by providing a venue that will introduce students of all ages to the Civil War in an all-inclusive setting. Educating the public through this endeavor remains a top priority of this venture. This unique museum will be designed specifically to engage visitors of all ages in a manner in which they can both relate to and better understand the complexities of the Civil War. The core artifact collection and subject matter expertise is already in place. The need remains for a suitable location to properly present it.
Fundraising, selecting a new location for the museum and increasing the public’s awareness of this project are the priorities of the Foundation in 2010. Several initiatives have been recommended by the Foundation Board and include hosting special events such as “The Angel of Marye’s Heights” documentary film premiere. Rotating exhibits showcasing Fredericksburg’s wartime experiences are also being explored.
The National Civil War Life Foundation wishes the public to know that the current Civil War Life Museum and collection has moved to downtown Fredericksburg and that this project will be moving forward. Updates that reflect the changes in the NCWLF’s status and location will be implemented on the organization’s website at www.civilwarlife.org in the coming weeks. All museum-related events will be announced as they become scheduled. Contact: email@example.com
Saturday, 30 January 2010
Behind the Scenes
“When you’re making a movie, you can’t think anybody will ever see it. You’ve just got to make a movie for the values it has. The greatest films were made because someone really wanted to make them. And, hopefully, the audience will show up, too.” - Clint Eastwood, actor/director.
“All in all, I am hoping this will turn out to be a quality film that is worthy of the story it is telling.” - Clint Ross, director The Angel of Marye’s Heights
Tuesday, 26 January 2010
Why I choose to celebrate Lee-Jackson Day (a response)
The other day another blogger (you can guess who) posted: “The reason I don’t celebrate Lee-Jackson Day is because I don’t celebrate the cause for which Lee and Jackson are remembered. They are remembered for their service in an army that functioned as the military extension of a government that was committed to perpetuating slavery and white supremacy. I find it simply impossible to distinguish between the individuals in question, including their many virtues, and the cause for which they attached themselves to.”
Personally, I find that to be a tremendously over-simplistic view. It’s not called “Confederacy Day,” it’s called “Lee-Jackson Day” and both of these gentlemen are remembered for many reasons. Isn’t Thomas Jackson’s pre-war contributions to the Presbyterian Church, as well as Robert E. Lee’s post-war tenure as president of Washington College worthy of our praise beyond their quote: “service in an army that functioned as the military extension of a government that was committed to perpetuating slavery and white supremacy”?
Of course it is. Why? Because the Civil War does not entirely define them. Ironically, this blogger and his peers often argue that the history of the South should not be limited to the four years of the Civil War. So…in their own hypocritical point of view, the South should not be judged through such a narrow focus, but those who participated in a war on its behalf should. (Do these people ever go back and re-read what they’ve posted in the past? They counter their own arguments.)
Now it is perfectly acceptable that this blogger chooses not to acknowledge Lee-Jackson Day, but according to his logic, we shouldn’t celebrate the legacies of any historically significant, slave-owning “white supremacists” including George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and most of their peers, because they also perpetuated slavery and white supremacy. Once again, that over-simplistic viewpoint requires a narrow-focus indeed. How convenient.
So what is my point? My point is that most people today are completely OK with these guys being among many things, racists, because they are able to distinguish the reasons why we should admire them, from the ones we should condemn. Our nation’s entire culture, from the portraits on our currency and most magnificent monuments - to our national holidays and children’s history lessons - celebrate imperfect, racially biased white men just like Jackson and Lee. If we all found it quote: “simply impossible to distinguish between the individuals in question, including their many virtues, and the cause for which they attached themselves to” we would more than likely be left without any historical heroes. How sad.
My response to this blogger is simply this...I believe that the majority of every-day Americans are intelligent and mature enough to determine that our times are very different from our forefathers and to always take that into consideration when acknowledging the past. It doesn’t make someone a racist if they admire these men and it doesn’t mean that they support every quote: “cause for which they attached themselves to.”
As usual this blogger is talking out of both sides of his mouth, but I guess we are not as smart as he is. That must be why I choose to celebrate Lee-Jackson Day.
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