Friday, May 22, 2015

A Fitting Final Resting Place

The Jones Library

The Jones Library Building & Facilities Committee this morning voted unanimously to request the Board of Trustees at their June 4th meeting adopt the town owned Civil War tablets and install them in the library as part of the upcoming renovation/expansion project.

Amherst Town Meeting approved $65,000 in Community Preservation Act money in 2009 to have the six large marble tablets professionally cleaned, lettering restored and then crated for safe storage and transport.

Originally the town wished to display them in Town Hall but found the flooring was not strong enough to support the weight of the tablets;  and building climate controlled weather proof cases for outside would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Assistant Town Manager Dave Ziomek attended the meeting this morning confirming the town was "still very committed to putting them on display, and using the Jones Library makes all the sense in the world."

He went on to say a simple Memo of Understanding could be drawn up maintaining town ownership of the tablets but giving the Jones Library "permanent loan."

The funding for installation could come from the state renovation grant, which would cover half the cost, or if that is not an allowable expense the town would apply for Community Preservation Act money.

The Jones Library is now in active discussion with the Strong House aka Amherst History Museum next door for purchase of land to facilitate their proposed expansion.   But this commitment to display the Civil War tablets is NOT dependent on that deal coming to fruition. 

Stirring news for this Memorial Day weekend.

"Sacred Dead" tablet with names of all 57 Amherst residents who gave their "last measure of devotion."


Anonymous said...

When they expand, how many parking spaces will they need to provide?

Larry Kelley said...

A lot more than they did after the first renovation expansion 23 years ago.

Anonymous said...

Why? There's parking on the street. There's a parking lot across the street. There's a parking lot behind them. They're in a sea of parking.

Anonymous said...

All that parking, just a short walk from Kendrick Place.

Dr. Ed said...

And as we celebrate Memorial Day, formerly know as Decoration Day, it is perhaps fitting to note that these White men died so that Black men could be free -- they marched to their deaths singing "As [Jesus] died to make men holy, let us die to make them free."

Two of my Great-Great-Grandfathers fought in that war, one came back without his leg and the other "Died in Washington Hospital" -- I have been unable to find where he is buried, let alone being able to "decorate" his actual grave.

This is the basis of my viscera reaction to the bull-bleep about how I am somehow the beneficiary of some sort of "White Privilege." If we wish to have repreations for slavery, fine -- I wish to claim subrogation rights to any such claims.

Or perhaps we could simply recognize that history is messy & complicated -- and that we are all far better off treating each other as "equals before the Lord" and ending all bigotry and stereotyping.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Ed for reminding us this solemn holiday is all about you.

Anonymous said...

The town is constantly strapped for money, perhaps it would be best to sell these to a national museum in Washington, let them pay to store them and then even more Americans can see them.

This money can be used to hire more police, school admins and increase the number of committees so that things can run smoother in town and the rest of the local needs can be met.

Dr. Ed said...

An important thing to remember about the Civil War is that many of these soldiers were not only married but had children -- many had enlisted because the $200 was money their young family badly needed. (That was a *lot* of money back then.)

Hence when they died, their widows became single mothers. There were no widow's benefits nor any of the social service programs which provide assorted handouts to single mothers today. A woman could live with her parents if they were wealthy (as Emily Dickinson did), but wealthy parents would have paid the $200 for the substitute and as their husbands wouldn't have gone to war, they wouldn't be widows.

One simply couldn't be a single mother back in the 1860's.

What they did -- what they had to do -- was put their children up for adoption, abandon them, and then go marry someone else.

Most of the regiments consisted of men from the same town so when all the men in a unit died, which was not uncommon, it meant that all the young men in that town were now dead.

Entire towns evaporated.

The women left to live elsewhere with the men they married. The children had become "Civil War Orphans" (that's what they later called themselves) and had been placed with families elsewhere.

That only left the elderly, except there was neither Social Security nor anything else -- the legal mandate was that adult suns must support their parents except that all of their sons were dead. Hence they fended for themselves as best they could -- but it it involved moving somewhere else and hence everyone was gone.

I came across this attempting to research the title of a piece of land that someone wanted to put a shopping mall onto -- and the title insurance company company kinda wanting to actually have a title to insure.

Why this is relevant: Yes, slavery sucked -- it sucked so much that White America paid a very high human cost to end it.

Yes the Massachusetts 54th was all Black -- but regiments were numbered consecutively, do the math... They and the other Black men who fought to end slavery were statistical outliers -- as were the women. Yes women -- usually only identified as such when they died in combat.

And Larry, the Irish had a legitimate gripe -- in Massachusetts, they had been victimized by Blacks employed as domestic help in the homes of the wealthy Boston elite -- they feared (correctly) that the Irish would work for far lower wages and hence take their jobs away from them.

They went and died on behalf of another group of oppressed people -- those who didn't die coming back to the "Irish Catholics Need Not Apply" signs.

My point: It would be really nice if those forever screaming "racism" were to pause long enough to read those names and reflect upon the price that White Men from Amherst paid in an attempt to do something about racism.

If I am to be judged on the basis of what my ancestors did, it would be really nice if people got beyond their prejudices and reflected upon what my ancestors really did do. While it would be really nice if those who consider it wrong to pre-judge someone on the color of his skin not pre-judge me on the basis of mine --- but if they have to do it, it'd be nice if they actually did it right.

Dr. Ed said...

"Thank you Ed for reminding us this solemn holiday is all about you"

It is.

If you have to put it that way then yes, it is all about me -- me and everybody else who has a family member who put on our nation's uniform, went to war, and didn't come home.

Remember that they didn't die for themselves -- that would a useless suicide. Instead, they died for their families -- both currently living and generations future -- and the promise to them is that their families will be remembered for their sacrifice.

Or as a military officer once explained to me, the funeral isn't about the deceased serviceman. It's about -- and for -- his family. Think about that for a minute...

Now remember two other things, A-hole -- that Memorial Day started with Decoration Day and that it was started by the GAR.

And you might want to ask yourself why the GAR even existed -- why it (and the Grange) became such powerful forces in Rural America during the latter third of the 19th Century and first four decades of the 20th Century.

HINT: It has to do with the fact that, prior to WW-II, this country largely ignored its veterans after the war, particularly the disabled veterans, and we totally ignored the families of those who had died in the war.

Decoration Day was intended to both remember those who had died in the war -- and to remember their families, many of whom were not doing well.

And so, A-hole, if you have to lower yourself to an unwarranted ad hominum attack, then you are also wrong -- by your standard, it legitimately is "all about me" even though I neither consider it to be nor intended what I wrote to imply that.

Dr. Ed said...

And we won't even get into how the UMPD was somehow unable to understand what what I meant when I said "the man wore my nation's uniform in time of war."

I really don't care if he was handing out pencils from some compartment way below the waterline in an aircraft carrier. If the US Navy (which I presume is competent) needs someone handing out pencils to perform the mission of getting the aircraft off the deck and the rest, then some sailor has to do it -- or the aircraft won't get off the deck and the rest...

I didn't particularly like him, I definitely did not approve of the way he treated women, and made no secret of that. And it's not that he is a pathological liar but that he is a *good* one -- his stories "checked out" until he made one mistake and neglected to check if a certain conference in DC was being held he same week it had been the prior year (it wasn't) -- until then, absolutely everything had "checked out."

And the man had worn my nation's uniform in time of war -- I believed it meant that I owed him at least something...

I think we all owe our veterans something -- and it's not the "Rah Rah Rah" stuff it usually becomes -- instead, I argue, it is the "benefit of the doubt" in some situations where they deserve that.

Anonymous said...

You are a delusional nutjob.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Ed, for remembering there's more to the day than firing up the grill.