Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Washington~ Part II

As an American all my life, I too have extended family members who have come from far away lands. My grandfather came to this country from Austria back as a boy. There never was a long enough story told to us, of any detail, only that during my grandfather's family's crossing, across the great oceans from Europe in what must have been horrendous conditions that steerage provided, his brother died. That is all I was ever told as a child by either my father or my grandmother. Nothing more, nothing less, barely a chapter of a life shared, of one who barely lived.
It must have been a horendous episode for my grandfather & his childhood family, for all the years that I knew him which really wasn't very many, perhaps up until I was ten or 13 or so. All the years that I knew my grandfather Benjamin, he never, ever spoke anything but a very sparse English words, only Yiddish which I barely understood. My grandmother Anna was born in Yonkers New York, though at some time in her family's history they had all come to this country from Russia.

So here I am now retelling some of my family's tree history, for this past Sunday, a small modern day branch of us, really packed in the site seeing which was a good activity for our short visit with our son, as we were to leave the next day to travel back up the eastern seaboard, to our neck of the woods, back to where I am now perched.

We chose to visit the family home of our Capitol's namesake~
George Washington, in Mount Vernon, which is located about an hour out of the District of Columbia, in Virginia.

My husband & I do agree with the assessment of Washington's great contribution to these United States of America, as a strategic leader & hero in the Revolutionary War, but the sheer fact that he owned slaves during his lifetime, & the amount of individuals he held in bondage until the time of his death, was three-hundred people. It was written in Washington's will that his slaves were to be granted their freedom upon his death. Which of course were; men, women, & children, the very young & the very old, compete families, all individuals that had no say, & no control over their own personal destiny.

Just image three-hundred people to do all your work, & this was no small homestead, but a great plantation which was a producer of tobacco, fruits, vegetables, live stock, whiskey, & whatever else...
On the way home back to New England, I asked my husband what his true opinion of George Washington was, & he said that, "The fact he is revered for his part of heroism in the Revolutionary War, & also his great Presidency, which could not be denied, but the fact that he was a slave holder, takes away from his greatness, as even considering owning, purchasing, controlling another human being, is totally repulsive, & therefore we as a Nation began our very beginning, marred."
Yes, indeed it is, much like a Biblical original sin, was my response.

I've included some photos of Mount Vernon in this array, simply because of it's stunning historic place in our history, & most truly it never did belong to Washington, but to the world of nature as always. These beautiful buildings have been constructed by man, & much of what you see of Mount Vernon, is from the mind & vision of the Washington family even before George's time, but most truly this plantation estate is of the blood, sweat & tears of every single slave~ man, woman & child who ever stepped upon & walked these halls & paths to the Potomac River & beyond...

It is always far too painful to be reminded of our humanity's, less then good nature, but that is who we are, an aspect of our shadow self, our lesser side, & a true reminder that though the fierce, & animalistic nature, that some human beings posses strongly in their reptilian brains, be what they are, it is not all of humankind to be this way. We all continue to learn new ways of thinking, of coping each & every day, & as we continue to bravely face our own history, we can be kinder & with that strong too. It's just a shift, in the perspective of what's blowing in the wind. We can do this, for in this point in time, it is necessary. We need not forget, but we do need to forgive, & along the way, to forgive ourselves too, for we will never be perfect, we are only human, but we can try, to continue to keep trying, to be a better People, a better Nation.


The following is Part I of this episode-

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

As usual you have shared an Excellent Blog in your History as well as Washington's HIstory, along with Wonderful Pictures.

I wonder if Washington and the founding fathers would be ashamed of all the "Class Warfare" that is going on in our Great Country. No other President has allowed this to happen...But today, we have it, and it's Frightening...These are Ugly, shameful, Times. LOL, b. Malin