Archive for the 'US History' Category

Jun 07 2014

These Then-And-Now Photos Will Make You Look At D-Day Differently

Published by under US History

These Then-And-Now Photos Will Make You Look At D-Day Differently.

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Feb 27 2013

Not Just Nurses: American Women in World War II

“We are anonymous. If people ask you what you do here, tell ‘em you are file clerks. People aren’t interested in file clerks — not enough to ask questions.” Women and men who served in the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) were instructed to keep their service secret. As spies, soldiers, and scientists, many of the women who had contributed to the war effort during World War II remained silent even after those wars had ended. The tasks that women were asked to perform went beyond the homefront and into the front lines.” -Gwen Perkins

via Not Just Nurses: American Women in World War II.

BTW, the iconic Rosie the Riveter poster is based on a real person.

The artist Norman Rockwell actually had the first Rosie painting, used on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post in 1943.

What is the difference between the two images? Do a google image search for “Rosie the Riveter.” What other images do you see?

During the war, the role of women in war production had entered all parts of the culture. Rosie the Riveter even had a song. Today, there is even a Rosie the Riviter Trust with its own website. This group records stories and images. Fun fact, Rockwell’s painting sold in 2002 for just under five million dollars!

Talk to older women in your life and ask them about “Rosie.” Ask them what types of jobs either they or their moms had during the war.

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Feb 26 2013

World War II – Series published in The Atlantic

Published by under US History,War



“World War II is the story of the 20th Century. The war officially lasted from 1939 until 1945, but the causes of the conflict and its horrible aftermath echoed for decades in both directions. While feats of bravery and technological breakthroughs still inspire awe today, the majority of the war was dominated by unimaginable misery and destruction. In the late 1930s, the global population stood at approximately 2 billion. In less than a decade, the war between the nations of the Axis Powers and the Allies resulted in some 80 million deaths — killing off about 4 percent of the whole world.This series of entries was published weekly on from June 19 through October 30, 2011, running every Sunday morning for 20 weeks. In this collection of 900 photos spread over 20 essays, I tried to explore the events of the war, the lives of the people fighting at the front and working back home, and the effects of the trauma on everyday activity. These images still give us glimpses into the experiences of our parents, grandparents and great grandparents, moments that shaped the world as it is today.”

via World War II – The Atlantic. (Click to access this series)

There are some fantastic photographs in this series, and the captions explain the background of it photo. I read through the comment sections and survivors of this war have added their own thoughts.  I thought it was interesting that within the comments in the 20th and final series, there is a discussion on how many communists are in our current congress. The accuser was asked by several people who they are.  He finally said they were the “Progressive Caucus.” Hmmmm.  (The Crucible came to mind….)

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Feb 24 2013

Native Americans in World War II

In 1936, President Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “This generation has a rendezvous with destiny.” When Roosevelt said that he had no idea of how much World War II would make his prophecy ring true. More than fifty years later, Americans are remembering the sacrifices of that generation, which took up arms in defense of the nation. Part of that generation was a neglected minority, Native American Indians, who flocked to the colors in defense of their country. No group that participated in World War II made a greater per capita contribution, and no group was changed more by the war. As part of the commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of World War II, it is fitting for the nation to recall the contributions of its own “first citizens.” (note, this was published in 1995)

via Native Americans in World War II.

The Navy also published a book “Indians in the War” with a pretty stereotyped cover. It is online. It shows major contributions of various nations, and a list of sailors wounded during the war. In that list is Antonio Rogers, Chehalis Indian, wounded in Germany.

Both of these publications mention the great number of young men and women who left the reservation for either military service or to work in war related industries. That migration will greatly change the nature of the reservation. Another article I read noted that these veterans will return home and begin to fight for Indian civil rights. In fact, of the leading Indian activists during the 60′s and 70′s, most of the leadership will be WWII vets.

One of the now-famous stories of Native American contributions during WWII was that of the Navajo Code Talkers. Their involvement was top secret until recently when their files were declassified. There is a lot of info on the internet now about them, and perhaps as a sign of how most people now use the internet, they have their own domain name

Here is a short video that provides a great deal of information. It includes clips from the movie Windtalker.



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Feb 20 2013

World War II and the Puget Sound

In September 1940, the United States implemented its first peacetime draft, requiring that all male citizens and resident aliens between 21 and 36 register for compulsory military service. Fifteen months later, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and the United States declared war on the Axis Powers (chiefly Germany, Austria, Italy, and Japan). Americans quickly mobilized in support of a total war effort.

Washington, a comparatively small and undeveloped state, played a disproportionately important role in the country’s efforts to gear up for war.

via the Free Online Encyclopedia of Washington State History.

Click on the link to get a pretty good idea of how important Washington was to the war effort. From planes to powdered eggs, from battleships to atomic bombs, Washington provided Allies with needed supplies for the war. All those jobs meant our population grew, and all those people need housing and their own supplies.

Although it isn’t mentioned in this article, a former students did an oral history on a lady who told about a Boeing plant in Chehalis during the war.

Talk to your family elders.  Ask what they did during the war.  Ask about rationing, about family members who may have fought. Ask about war brides in the family. Somewhere in your family stash of “old things” you might even have a blue star.

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Feb 20 2013

Alphabet houses



Richland’s unique “alphabet houses” were designed by Spokane, Washington, architect G. Albin Pherson to accommodate the tremendous growth in population at the Hanford site during World War II. He was given less than 90 days to completely design the entire new Richland community, including streets, utilities, and commercial and residential building plans. Each housing design was assigned an alphabet letter designation and included single-family homes, duplexes, apartments, and dormitories. As Richland was a “company town” until 1958, these homes maintained a distinct uniformity for many years. One neighborhood of 162 alphabet houses that have largely maintained their original appearance, designated the “Gold Coast Historic District,” was named to the National Register of Historic Places in April 2005.

via Alphabet houses.

This extreme growth was experienced all over the United States, but coastal cities and the west coast grew the fastest. Once small towns were unable to handle the number of people flocking to war industries for jobs.

In the case of Richland, it became home to the thousands of worker on the Hanford Nuclear Plant, part of the Manhattan Project. Workers at this plant never knew they were helping to make the atomic bomb.

These  homes, BTW, will also be seen in Seattle, the small little town that was Bellvue, Bremerton, Aberdeen…anywhere were workers flocked.  Do any of these houses look familiar?


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Feb 18 2013

Roger Shimomura “An American Diary”



In this series of paintings, Japanese-American Roger Shimomura combined aspects of his Pop Art and cartoon-based imagery with reminiscences of his family’s internment during World War II. An American Diary is based on a personal diary written by his grandmother, Toku Shimomura, while the Shimomura family was interned at Camp Minidoka in Hunt, Idaho. Shimomura has commemorated the experience by combining the Japanese literary tradition with flat comic-book style characters, outlined in black.

via Roger Shimomura | Greg Kucera Gallery | Seattle.

Click on the link to see his artistic interpretations of his grandmother’s diary. I think you will like his style. (On one of his links I found a painting he did of himself box-kicking a political pundit that I have also fantasized about kicking, too.) He is very talented.  See how many signs of the 1940s are in the painting below.



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Feb 12 2013

In John They Trust- Cargo Cults

In John They Trust | People & Places | Smithsonian Magazine.

In 1968, season 2 of Star Trek showed an episode in which the crew of the Starship Enterprise checked in on a planet that had been last visited 100 years earlier.  They were shocked to find a mobster society in the middle of gangster rivalry.  The crew of the Enterprise was forced to play along and try to bring peace.

from the official Star Trek episode guide: Star Trek Goes Gangsta

The planet Sigma Iotia II’s last visit by the Federation was by the U.S.S. Horizon … a hundred years before. Realizing the lapse in monitoring the planet, the Federation sends the U.S.S. Enterprise to observe the progress of Iotia’s population. Beaming down to the planet’s surface, Kirk, Spock and McCoy are surprised to see a much different society — an Earth-like 1920s gangster culture — than was reported by the U.S.S. Horizon crew. Bodily seized, the landing crew are taken before one of the major planetary leaders, mobster Bela Oxmyx. Wishing to unite the population under his rule, Bela offers Kirk “a piece of the action” in exchange for the technologically advanced weapons of the U.S.S. Enterprise.

Finally, Bela Oxmyx is given a display of the Federation’s power when he is beamed aboard the Enterprise and held hostage in the transporter room. Arranging a meeting between the two antagonists, Kirk is successful in uniting the two gangs in a loose system of government with the Federation as Godfather … for a piece of the action, of course. Furthermore, upon discovering a book — “Chicago Mobs of the Twenties” — the U.S.S. Horizon crew left behind 100 years before, Kirk and Spock finally understand how the highly imitative Iotians reinvented their entire society.

Back aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise, Kirk notices McCoy unusually drawn and worried. When questioned, McCoy is forced to admit that he thinks he left his communicator on Sigma Iotia II, leaving him to wonder what type of planetary society the next Federation visit will find …

When I first learned about cargo cults in college, I thought of this episode.  What does happen to a society that finds something new and re-creates a belief system based on it?  While it may seem odd to outsiders, it is very real to those involved.As we study westward expansion in US, and cultures in APHG, we need to be mindful of the after effects of cultural contacts, especially when those contacts are brief and involve very different practices.  We will look at some of those in both classes.

SSIP  Read the article on John Frum followers. What do you think?  Would you want to see their celebrations today?  Is this still controversial?  What other information can you find on cargo cults?

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Sep 21 2012

‘A Wall of Separation,” Jefferson, and the FBI

‘A Wall of Separation’

FBI Helps Restore Jefferson’s Obliterated Draft

The first use of the “wall of separation between church and state” appears in Thomas Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptists in 1802.  Since then, courts have used this letter to try to establish the religious  intent of the 1st amendment. Of particular interest is not so much what he wrote, but what he crossed out.  In 1998, the FBI agreed to use their technology to try to restore the “cross outs.”  Click on the link to read what they found. I don’t want to give it away, but let’s just say that John Adams and the Federalists would not have been pleased.

via ‘A Wall of Separation’ June 1998 – Library of Congress Information Bulletin.

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Sep 17 2012

The Cherokee nation must be free to expel black freedmen | James MacKay |

James MacKay of the, posted this article on Saturday 17 September 2011.

Wow. Quite a bit of information to digest, and a lot of information that requires one to have a bit of US history as background. Luckily, you all have finished chapter one and did the readings on the Non-Intercourse Act/ Nation within a Nation worksheet. You have constructed a map showing regional differences and know where the majority of natives were located around 1820. You know where the majority of slaves were living. In chapter two, we look at further sectional and regional differences, along with the push for land (especially needed in the agrarian south.) We will look at President Jackson’s Indian policy and the state of Georgia, resulting in the Cherokee Trail of Tears and three Supreme Court rulings. We conclude chapter two with the Civil War, which is pretty much where the current controversy with the Cherokee nation starts.

The article refers to several historical incidents and policies that influence what is happening right now within the Cherokee nation.  After chapter two, we will take a few days to specifically look at the 19th century policies that impacted our local native groups (combined to created the Confederated Tribes of the Chehalis.)

Click on the link to read the article. It is an opinion piece which means the author will state his position, then try to back it up with examples and details. He provides links within the article for further information.

As I read the article, I couldn’t help but wonder how Rachel and Sen. Paul would discuss this issue. Politically, does the US government have the constitutional authority to be involved, especially considering the concept of “Nation within a Nation.” Can the Cherokee make their own decisions internally without US government approval or interference? Culturally, what does this say about being “Cherokee?” Is this really an economic issue over gov’t and casino money? Socially, can a group both decide who is “in” and who is “out” even if it doesn’t seem fair?


In 2007 the Cherokee passed an amendment to its constitution requiring members to have Cherokee blood. Photograph: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

The idea that a 21st-century sovereign nation would expel a racial minority that had been part of it for a century and a half seems outrageous. Yet this is precisely what has happened in the last month in the Cherokee nation, the second largest American Indian tribe. The US government’s condemnatory response, however, may cause more problems than it solves.

via The Cherokee nation must be free to expel black freedmen | James MacKay | Comment is free |

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Apr 09 2012

Civil Rights- Emmett Till

There are a lot of clips on the internet machine, but in class we will be watching two parts to a documentary on the events surrounding Emmett’s death.

Part One

Part Two

What does his murder say about the times in which he lived? What impact did his murder have on the civil rights movement?

Compare and contrast this murder to Trayvon Martin’s killing. Here’s a CNN article that tries to this, and another article that raises several points.

Professor Mellisa Harris-Perry has done several stories on this, and since information is not all known, she tries to put Trayvon’s death in some type of historical perspective.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

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Mar 25 2012

Kennedy and Cuba

Here are two clips from the files.

Bay of Pigs

Cuban Missile Crisis. This one does a quick review of the Bay of Pigs and the Cold War in general as background.

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Mar 25 2012

Nixon and Kennedy Debate on Cuba

As you listen to this portion of their presidential debate, listen for each man’s position on what to do about Castro. Remember, the Bay of Pigs invasion was already being planned under President Eisenhower, and Nixon was his VP.

Do you hear the economic sanctions argument? The idea of containment? What was their fear of Castro’s takeover? Why does Nixon bring up the United Nations?

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Mar 25 2012

Was the Great Society Great?

Do you have grandparents on Medicare? Did your parents go to college with federal loans? Do you plan to fill out the FAFSA to see if you qualify for college aid? Did you go to Head Start? Do you like clean water? Did you watch Sesame Street or other shows on public television?

Do you like the idea of voting without paying a tax to do so? Do you like the idea of being able to not lose a job opportunity based on your sex, race or country of origin? These are just a few of the things we still have from the Great Society. There are critics, however.

In class we will look at the Great Society, based on Chapter 15, Section 3. We will be using Thinking Like An Historian primary and secondary sources to analyze its success and recording thoughts on the graphic organizer. This lesson also includes a list of many more Great Society programs you can add to your C15S3 graphic organizer.
Here is a quick review. It will make sense if you’ve already done the reading.

HipHughes is in New York. I get a kick out of his “quick” reviews. The test he keeps referring to is the New York Regents test all NY students have to take.

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Mar 18 2012

Hiroshima Memories- Washington Style

Part of Hiroshima’s effectiveness is in telling the story of the atomic bomb through the eyes of actual people. Here are some other stories from some Washingtonian perspectives.

from the Times article…”It was a beautiful summer morning, and people were beginning to stir. Fred Hasegawa was waiting for a train to take him downtown to work, widening the streets of Hiroshima for fire lanes. Not far away, Mary Fujita was catching a streetcar for an early dental appointment. Ken Nakano and other middle-school students were gathering at the sweet potato patch they had been assigned to work. To the north, in a prisoner of war camp near Toyama, Bryce Lilly was hauling molten slag from the furnaces at a steel mill. At another camp, even farther north, in the mountains near Hanawa, Roger Lawhead had climbed the snowy path to begin another long day mining copper. Three thousand miles away, in an army camp in the recently liberated Philippines, Pfc. Bill Endicott was learning to shoot a Thompson machine gun, preparing to invade Japan. Hours earlier at Tinian in the South Pacific, one of the staging areas for that planned invasion, Richard Wilson wondered what was up with the mysterious airmen who had landed their B-29s on the north field, had the planes serviced in secrecy and then taken off in the night. One of those B-29s from Tinian, the Enola Gay, dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima that morning. It was an attempt, American military leaders said, to shorten the war and circumvent an invasion of Japan. Three days later, another atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki. Japan’s leaders announced their surrender within days, on Aug. 14. That one searing atomic moment over Hiroshima 50 years ago Aug. 6 changed the lives of everyone involved in the war. Civilians like Hasegawa, Fujita and Nakano were devastated by the bomb. They are among the few to survive it into old age. Prisoners of war like Lilly and Lawhead were freed by it. And soldiers like Endicott and Wilson were spared an invasion. Here are their stories.”

via Seattle Times Trinity Web: Hiroshima Memories.

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Feb 20 2012

The Not-So-Great Escape: German POWs in the U.S. during WWII

Nearly 400,000 German POWs were brought to the United States during World War II, and officials recorded precisely 2,222 individual attempts by the Germans to flee their camps. POWs scaled fences, smuggled themselves out in or under trucks or jeeps, passed through the gate in makeshift GI uniforms, cut the barbed wire or tunneled under it, or went out with work details and simply walked away. Their motives ranged from trying to find their way back to Germany which none ever did to merely enjoying a few hours, days, or weeks of freedom.But none of these assorted breakouts could match in audacity, scale, or drama the plan under way at Compound 1A at Papago Park. It would trigger the largest manhunt in Arizona history, bringing in local law enforcement, the FBI, and even Papago Indian scouts.

via The Not-So-Great Escape: German POWs in the U.S. during WWII.

Very interesting article. We go to that park every time we visit our daughter. I had no idea this had happened. Next time I am there, though, I will try to find some signs of this former POW camp!

Note- the comments to this article are also interesting.  Here is one memory shared:

This story brought back memories of my Mother, a former WAC from Pennsylvania who passed away in 2000. She was stationed at a bomber base in Texas where German POW’s did manual labor. She said that where she worked she could see POW’s working in a warehouse that was attached to her office. One day she saw a crate about to fall on a POW’s head, and yelled a warning to him in Pennsylvania Dutch, which saved him from harm. Weeks later, one of the guards asked her if she would accept a gift from that POW in gratitude. It was a carved rendition of a chalet, which unfortunately has not survived the years.

FYI- We also had German POWs in Washington. Both Italian and German POWs were kept in Seattle at Ft. Lawton. I read this article and learned there was resentment by the black troops over the favorable way the POWs were treated. An Italian POW was found dead, and 23 blacks were charged. Interesting story! The site also has maps showing the segregation of the “colored” troops.

App. 4000 POWs were kept at Fort Lewis, nearby Camp Meriwhether and Fort Vancouver, too. Wow.

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Nov 08 2011

What the Triangle Shirtwaist fire means for workers now – The Washington Post

(This is a repost from last year)

A century ago this week, in Lower Manhattan, a young social worker named Frances Perkins was having tea at the Greenwich Village townhouse of her friend, the socialite Margaret Morgan Norrie. They were interrupted by clanging fire truck bells. Then they heard the anguished screams: “Don’t jump!”

They raced out of the townhouse and ran toward the commotion: a fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, just off Washington Square. Flames and black smoke shot from the top floors, and as they watched in shock, young girls and women, some alone, some clutching hands, inched up to the windows’ ledges — and jumped to their deaths.

via What the Triangle Shirtwaist fire means for workers now – The Washington Post.

On Monday night, HBO will air a special on this topic.

PBS did a nice job on a movie on this event and their website has a great deal of additional information and links.  Here is a very short trailer:

Watch the full episode. See more American Experience.

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Oct 30 2011

Progressive Party Impact in Washington

First Voter's Pamphlet, 1914

You already know that our area had strong Populist Party ties in the last half of the 19th century. The Centralia newspaper was the Populist Advocate. With increasing immigration and urban issues, however, a cross over to many of the Progressive Party ideas began to occur. In WA, the line between these two groups was blurred.

In 1910, WA legislature voted to limit women’s workdays to 8 hours. Heavy lobbying by certain industries excluded jobs in the fishing, canning, drying and picking industries. As a surprise bonus, women were guaranteed a chair to sit on at work!

Washington, like other western states, advocated for women’s suffrage early. In 1910, women got the vote! With their new-found political voice, women influenced the 1912 election, especially in voting for the new election reforms of initiative, referendum and recall.

In the election of 1914, voters used those reforms. For the first time they could vote on citizen sponsored legislation-initiatives. The results?

  • State Prohibition- passed. Can’t manufacture or sell alcohol. Possession OK. (My Church of Christ, 2nd Great Awakening family would have definitely supported this. My Finnish grandfather would have supported it, but still keep his whiskey in the barn. My Irish and German grandparents would have ignored it entirely.)
  • Ban private employment agencies charging fees- passed
  • 8 hour day for all- failed (women’s had passed in 1910)
  • Rule to force convicts to build roads- failed

Referendums, laws proposed by the legislatures, also were voted on. Both were defeated: a teacher retirement fund and an irrigation project for eastern WA. (The irrigation project would have been similar to the Reclamation projects at the federal level. My grandmother’s family tried to homestead in that area but lasted only long enough to bury a child and lose everything. A lack of water there chased them back to this side of the mountains.)

One state consitutitional amendment was on the ballot as well. It would have allowed non-citizens to own property. This was defeated and stayed in the state consitution until 1966. (This may have encouraged my alien grandfather to marry my grandmother who was a US citizen. He never became a citizen, mostly because he was afraid the Russian government would find him and make him serve. Finland was under Russian control.)

There were no recalls on this ballot, but there was a vote for senator thanks to the 17th Amendment (1913).

Other signs of progressive influence existed as well. In 1911 the Port of Seattle was created, allowing the city to own it. Railroads were mad. Today, WA has 75 municipally owned ports, more than any other state. Close by, we have the Port of Centralia and Port of Olympia. These ports collect taxes, tariffs and control shipping. Today they still work, like in the past, to bring jobs and businesses to our area, further increasing the tax base.

Just thought you might want to know how this chapter relates to us :)


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Oct 29 2011

Social Gospel Movement Still Around and Just Up the Road in Seattle

Although I have long know about the Social Gospel Movement, I never knew who started it until I read that section of your text. I gave his name a google to see what else I could find out.

Apparently there is a Rauschenbusch Institute today, and it has affiliations in Seattle! As I read through some of the links on their website, I found a set of essays written by college students. All are interesting, but this 2003 Seattle University student’s essay gave an interesting argument for the importance of the social gospel movement today in fighting poverty.

Those of you with Bible backgrounds will understand this essay easily, but regardless of how any of us believe, she shows what that early 20th century movement would look like today.

On google I noticed how many teen centers they ran throughout the country. And for the final example of how they stay relevant a century later, you can even find them on Facebook!

Love it when I learn something new!

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Oct 22 2011

90 Years After a Bloody Race Riot, Tulsa Confronts Its Past –

Wess Young, 94, fled with his mother and sister as armed white men rampaged through his neighborhood in 1921.With their guns firing, a mob of white men charged across the train tracks that cut a racial border through this city. A 4-year-old boy named Wess Young fled into the darkness with his mother and sister in search of safety, returning the next day to discover that their once-thriving black community had burned to the ground.

via 90 Years After a Bloody Race Riot, Tulsa Confronts Its Past –

I didn’t know about this until I read a reference to the event in a book Elijah Rising written by one of my Twitter friends, Lyn LeJeune:

“I traveled by wagon heading to Elijah’s tents. I sat on old newspapers and pulled one out to read as I waited for a broken wheel to be repaired. Had God really sent Elijah? In June, the white citizens of Tulsa burned the Negro area called Greenwood flat to the ground. The pictures were horrendous: A young man stretched out on a wagon, just like the one I rode to find Elijah, on display like a prize from a gruesome hunt. The Mississippi flowed near the road on which I traveled. My geography was weak, but I felt I had to go there to see if the raging waters had picked up the bodies that had been dumped in the rivers outside of Tulsa. I got my answer, and I still to this day don’t know whether I was up to the sight. Bodies, all belly down, passing by me as I watched from the banks as though great Rome had fallen and any hope of civilization and the rule of law had vanished.

Is one river of death connected to all others? Can bodies travel from New Orleans to Canada through the vista of America letting the onlookers know what has happened? Perhaps, I thought, as I smelled the rot of flesh; we had become numb already, in this new century.

I turned away from the scene and walked along a road that was black and desolate. It reminded me of photographs of the Western Front [WWI], with the bodies of young men supine and lifeless, gone, gone, millions of them gone, washing down the rivers of Europe and everyone too exhausted, too spent to gather them up.

And I was standing in Tulsa, standing on the western edge of America, and I was thinking that yes, one river of death is connected to all others.”


The description of death was vivid, but I’m not very far into the book and the character telling the story seems to be crazy/mad. I had to check it out. Was he hallucinating an awful story, or did this really happen?

I googled Greenwood flat, riot, and Tulsa. I found several references on the internet, but the New York Times article contains some interview questions with people who actually were there. Click the above link to read it see some pictures and read some accounts.

According to the article, Tulsa schools will now start teaching about this event. They will most likely be using information from the OK Digital Archives which has a vast amount of primary sources materials. Montgomery College also has an informative site. There has been a move to try to “right the wrong” economically through a reparations group. Their site has additional information as well.

Much like the Centralia Massacre in our own area, places will sometimes try to ignore the troubling parts of their history. Dangerous to do that, though, because, as the saying goes, those who don’t know the part are condemned to repeat it.

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