Category Archives: Public History

OK, Who Stole the Sherman’s March Marker?

Sherman's March MarkerApparently, somebody decided to have a little fun and steal the memorial marker to Sherman’s March located on North Clark Street in Milledgeville, Georgia. According to the story, it is not the first time the sign has gone missing. Perhaps the guilty party is attempting to revise the narrative. Actually, I suspect it’s a college prank.

I Stand With the National Park Service

National Park ServiceI have a number of friends who work for the National Park Service. They protect this nation’s most important cultural, environmental, and historical treasures. As a group they are some of the most passionate and knowledgeable public servants that you will find and they are worth every cent of our tax dollars. I am absolutely disgusted at the unwarranted accusations being hurled in their direction during this federal shutdown. Here is one lone voice in response to some of the nonsense that is being spread about the closure of NPS sites across the country.

No one misses the parks more than those who work in them, Kevin. When we were furloughed, a part of the shutdown included closure of park buildings, parks roads and avenues, and memorials for security reasons for protection of the resource itself and visitors. I’ve seen posts and caught some of the “the parks are owned by the American public and we’re taking them back” crowd but as yet have not seen a line of these same persons volunteering to clean the toilets, patrol the roads, provide assistance at information stations or in back country park areas, or sweep the floors after a thousand or more visitors have tramped through leaving behind candy wrappers, et al. FOX news reported that NPS rangers were told to make the closure “as painful as possible”, which is total nonsense. Tea Party reps like Michele Bachman and Randy Neugebauer have used the closure of the WW2 Memorial to grandstand for themselves and gone as far as to dress down an NPS employee simply doing her job – unpaid at the moment- by controlling access to a closed site. Rand Paul has referred to Park Police as “goons” sent to close the memorials from the American public. Continue reading

Now You Know What a Federal Government Shutdown Means

Update: There are a number of reports that the Obama administration is playing politics with the NPS closures by pushing administrators to make it as difficult as possible for the general public to access certain sites. This piece by The Washington Times is typical. One unknown source is cited, but that’s about it. This interview with Jon Jarvis, director of the NPS is very clear about why these drastic steps are necessary.

There are employees that pick up the trash. There are employees that clean the restrooms. There’s employees that provide protection against vandalism. Some of these sites are potential targets for vandalism or terrorism. And so, I’ve had to furlough most of those employees. I furloughed, as a result of no appropriation, 21,000 employees of the National Park Service. And so we are down to just a – essentially a skeleton crew of enforcement officers that provide just the very basics of security. I can’t leave them open and accept that kind of impact. That’s – that violates my responsibilities to the American people as the steward of these places.

Like many of you, my blood pressure went through the roof after watching this video. At first I was convinced that it was a piece from The Onion. I viewed it twice all the while trying to comprehend how Texas Republican Congressman, Randy Neugebauer, could justify berating a National Park Service employee for having to manage a very difficult situation that his own party created. Is it possible that this jackass didn’t understand that the  shutdown of the federal government includes the NPS?

I have nothing but the utmost respect for the work that the National Park Service does across this country and it breaks my heart that they (along with many others) have to suffer for absolutely no reason. Thanks to this dedicated NPS employee for standing her ground in the face of this silly man.

Robinson House Added to Virginia Landmarks Register

I am happy to report that the Robinson House, located on the grounds of R. E. Lee Camp, No. 1, in Richmond is among twelve sites to be added to the Virginia Landmarks Register.  The VMFA will rehabilitate the structure and use it as a regional tourist center. This is great news for those who care about the preservation and interpretation of sites related to Richmond’s Confederate history and heritage.

The Robinson House in Richmond, located on the campus of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, is significant for its distinctive architecture and compelling history, particularly as part of the nation’s first successful and oldest operating home for needy Confederate veterans.

Constructed in the mid-19th century as the country house of Anthony Robinson Jr., a prominent Richmond banker and landowner, the Robinson House indicates the popularity of Italianate architecture with Virginia’s antebellum high society. In 1884 the Robinson family sold the house to the R. E. Lee Camp, No. 1, Confederate Veterans, at which time it was transformed it into a three-story institutional headquarters for the R. E. Lee Confederate Soldiers’ Home. For 56 years thereafter, Robinson House-renamed Fleming Hall during the Soldiers’ Home era-served as a barracks, administrative center, and museum until the facility officially closed in 1941.

The building’s role as the literal and symbolic center of the large residential complex for Confederate veterans made it a visual icon of the “Lost Cause” and a long-standing, important site for collective commemoration, remembrance, and reconciliation events. While more than 30 buildings and structures once stood on the grounds of the Soldiers’ Home, only Robinson House and the Confederate Memorial Chapel remain, both of which are now owned and maintained by VMFA.