23 December 2007

Another Suggestion

After running into a website for a post-graduate history lab in the UK, I thought, "why not do something like this with your fellow military history workers, researchers, etc from work and SHFG?"

The Military History Laboratory, sponsored by....
and that's where the questions began. Who would sponsor it? Why should they? Would anyone attend? Where do I start? Couple approaches came to mind.

Marine Corps History Laboratory: hosted by either Marine Corps University (yah, right), Marine Corps Heritage Foundation, or Marine Corps University Foundation. The latter two are more likely but doubtful. However, there is a pool here to pull from. The first invites could go out to the employees of HD, NMMC, GRC as well as students and post-baccalaureate faculty at MCU. Since the goal is to make this a peer-reviewed group, one would have to at least have a bachelor's in history or been published several times or working in the field to be invited.

Of course, there are more options when you expand to the broader community of military history.

Military History Laboratory: hosted by SHFG or SMH--more likely SHFG since it's local and the group would be local. Not only HD, NMMC, GRC and MCU people, but Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, National Guard, and Air National Guard Bureau personnel would be invited.

Goals? Well, one would be to foster relationships amongst the various organizations staff, but mostly to encourage those working on projects, who are writing, use the people as the first round of vetters, and simply to be able to exchange ideas in the comfort of comrades.

I wonder if this would fly? I may have to put out some feelers and see if anyone would be interested. I know it may conflict with the Military History Classics, but that may be too formal. Maybe I should start just with the Marine Corps and work the way up--who knows, may not get anyone to show.

Anyway, food for thought.


20 December 2007

Pay Dirt, Again!

Once again, I was just foolin' around with an idea and came across a stash of pictures--this time they were marked "Marine Corps, Fort Crockett"--holy cow! Simply amazing. Check out the bottom left hand corner of picture for written description.

Also, compare this to a modern day picture of Fort Crockett, some of the old buildings are still being used--not as they were intended but still being used!



17 December 2007

Pay dirt!

I struck pay dirt today. On a scouting mission for materials for my tentative thesis topic, I found some pictures that were all labeled "unknown". They looked familiar, the people, the background, the pose--it hit me that they could be the "candid" shots of the regiment getting their "group" picture taken.

After doing some comparison (via the phone), I was skeptical because from the comparison some of the items didn't match up. It was later in the day that I saw the group shot and realized that I had found the pictures of the regiment but what I was comparing them to was the group shot of the BRIGADE!

I was floored--I had found a cache of pictures that NO one has, and they had gone "unknown" for 45 years and I had solved the puzzle. Oh wow, I was so excited. I still am. I am going to go back tomorrow and take digital shots of them and see if I can get them scanned for me.

Another gold mine today was the personal memoir (unpublished) of an enlisted man serving with the brigade--nearly a day by day blow of doings! AND I ran into the ONE person who knew about a "Giant" who served with the brigade and low-and-behold, the giant did an oral history! Oh man, I can't wait to dig into THAT tomorrow.

This is why I love my type of history--the research. These nuggets are gold to me. I love this, and I can't find the words to tell you why or how much. Just take my word for it :)


14 December 2007

Bits and Pieces

In the past month, I have been very busy--so I apologize to anyone who reads my ramblings. I'm not sure anyone does. Anywhoooo.

The SHFG holiday reception was earlier this month and it turned into a wonderful time, despite the cruddy weather. It also reinforced a feeling I've been having regarding those of the academic field of history. They don't much care for those of us who aren't 1/ PhDs and 2/Non university professors. I don't understand this and it makes me want to be snotty back to them--I'm bigger than that so I won't be.

I've had this feeling particularly since taking the latest class from a professor (who still shall remain nameless) who has made it very clear that I am an idiot, biased and can not be objective simply because of my employer. Um, jeez, lady, that sounds like you're saying that because I work for a particular company I don't have the freedom to come to my own conclusions--wow--she's wrong but what's worse is that she's in the same boat because she's not tenured yet.

This particular PhD will never find my name on her rolls again and I will quit the program if the make her my thesis adviser. After a class with her telling the entire room her 'theories' on topics where I'm considered the SME (subject matter expert) for my company (her ideas were wrong by the way), I knew I was in trouble. If I get a B in the class I will never say a bad word about her again.

Anyway, I digress. I don't know if I'm getting a bit 'full' of myself or if I'm actually starting to gain a bit of a good reputation at work, but it seems as though I'm being handed more and more high level responsibilities as compared to a couple of the others in the office. I just hope I live up to the expectations.

And, I'm sorry.... back to the issue of PhDs and their ideas regarding those of us non-academics, as someone once said, "Can't we all just get along?"


20 November 2007


How does one deal with difficult people? I don't normally have too much trouble short of the odd co-worker; however, I've been struggling all semester with my professor. I like to think that I can "win" someone over with my personality and demeanor but this professor has been a tough nut. My professor has disagreed with me on every statement that comes out of my mouth, this professor denounces my type of historical work as "tainted" and that I can not be objective and truthful when it comes to history because of my employer's influence.

There have been several occasions where upon my professor has spouted rumors and myths as fact. How can I safely object to these without jeopardizing my final grade? I've thought of zinging this person on their final evaluation, but that seems petty. So, I'm putting together a professional response with all factors and documentation that I will send to this person after the semester has ended.

I realize its the goal of instructors to challenge their students, but is it their right to question a students integrity, sincerity and honesty without provocation--solely based upon their employer?

07 November 2007

Going gangbuster!

I attended the Executive Council meeting yesterday and have been given the green light on the mentor project! I'm thrilled and humbled at the same time. I also took on the responsibility of coordinating the program--drafting a message to go out in the bulletin and an article to appear in the quarterly newsletter. I'm simply happy as a lark.

While attending the meeting, and after offering my services on another project, I've taken on additional responsibilities. Adopt-a-university is the project, and I adopted my alma mater and another university (which of course, will remain nameless). So I contacted my Alumni Association to make sure I wasn't stepping on any toes by going directly to the History Dept of my alma mater and after talking with the VP (whom I've known by email for many years), find myself invited to the opening of a new history related facility at the university. Again, humbled and honored.

Sometime ago, I had inquired about the board of directors of the alumni association and never heard back from the person in charge. However, after speaking with the VP today, I find that I may be a board member sooner than anticipated. At least, if nothing else, I made it known that I would like to donate time instead of money. In-kind gifts often yield more than cash donations--particularly when cash for the donor is hard to come by.

The moral of this whole story? I'm not sure there's a moral but at least I am doing my best to further the history field via my professional organization and alma mater--not to mention my own ambitions of taking over the world. One piece at a time :)


03 November 2007

Ideas Galore!

There are so many ideas floating around in my head. I'm so far down the 'food chain' that many of them are ignored. When they aren't ignored they are laughed at because no one wants to take on any additional duties. People who are only in it for the paycheck and not the passion really rub me the wrong way.

All that said is one reason why I pitched my mentor idea to the Society. They thought it was a cool idea and I've been invited to the Executive Council meeting on Tuesday to talk more about it. I'm very excited!

I wonder sometimes if I'm simply trying to control things or if I'm in over my head with all my ideas and my drive to do more--or am I just being a dumb kid?


18 October 2007

Professionalism in the Workplace or Lack Thereof

I'm not real sure where I picked it up, could have been Grisamore's or just common sense, but I've always been pretty professional at dealing with the public. No matter the mood I'm in, I always deal with researchers (amateur or professional, General or PFC) with the same amount of respect, and personable-ness (I know it's not a real word). However, it seems that there are a growing number of persons in my immediate surroundings who lack the fundamentals of common courtesy and decency when dealing with others--let alone co-workers.

Today, during a meeting, one of the meeting persons decided it was time to give the rest of the meeting participants a lecture and with a seriously condescending tone and attitude. It was quite obvious to everyone in the room but all attempts to cut this offensive person off were met with continuous spewing. This is the same person who later starts on a rant -- I'm not sure she's done yet -- about a researcher. This researcher may have inadvertently misused materials, but instead of simply attending to the matter, this offending person went off on a tirade and never stopped. Everyone in the office was subjected to her verbal vomit. I started to get a headache and I know her voice had to be giving out--but she did not relent.

One of the few "netter-isms" is in relation to dealing with those in public, private, work, or anywhere--deal with them as if they were your grandmother. How would you want her handled? Would you want someone to verbally accost her in public when she asked an honest question? Would you want her to feel dumb as bricks simply for wondering? Of course not, and thus, treat everyone you deal with, with respect. Now, this of course doesn't go for those persons of the idiotic persuasion, who truly are stupid. Stupidity, of course, comes in many colors--like someone being a total ass in the office.

Regrettably, this person is totally oblivious to their failings. After the meeting, I was told, "I just had to say something. I didn't want them thinking that ... (irrelevant)." But alas, I am guilty of not saying in return, "Ya, well, you didn't need to make them feel like little kids and sound so degrading when you spoke." This is due to the fact that others have tried and failed. She simply can not acknowledge the fact that she has a problem.

How do you deal with someone so toxic? How do you deal with someone so toxic in the workplace and just doesn't get it? It's amazing she can't see it. It's sad.


10 October 2007

More on the Thesis...

I'm obsessed at the current moment with the thought of doing a thesis. Actually, I'm obsessed with possible topics--what's acceptable, what isn't? Can I pick my own topic? Do I have to do something that my advisor wants me to do? Most of this could easily (in theory) be answered by said advisor--but the advisor I have isn't exactly the most readily accessible let alone willing to answer my apparently tedious questions with understanding and concern.

Ok, better get back to my thesis issues before going off on a diatribe rant on my advisor. There are many many topics one could chose from. I have a topic in mind even. "The Evolution of the Marine Air-Ground Task Force and Case Study in Employment." Does sound dry when its all written out, doesn't it? Rest assured, it is worth a review--no official history has been written and as far as I can tell no other dissertation has been done on it.

There is another possible topic--it may not be long enough however. The Marines in World War I who did not deploy to France with the AEF. There were Marines stationed in Texas for various reasons from possible war with Mexico to the "Sugar Intervention" to German U-boats in the Gulf of Mexico.

Personally, that one doesn't trip my trigger. I'd like to stick to the post Civil War era through pre-World War I era. However, I'm not really sure what sounds like something that would thrill me. I don't know about you, but I have to be "into" my project to really write well. (Can't you tell with this blog?!)

I've asked a couple coworkers to go to lunch to help me mull this over and to get their opinions. As it stands right now, the thesis is going to happen. It shortens my graduate education by a year and that in turn helps me when time comes for 'fleeting up' the ranks at work---many vacancies to be had for the right people with the right mix of education and experience in the years to come. I don't want to have my knees cut out from under me simply because I haven't finished my MA yet.


09 October 2007

Mentor Program Comments

Here are just a few of the comments from the various Executive Council members who've reviewed and discussed my proposal. I think they speak for themselves.

"I was pleased to see the very positive response to the mentor proposal at last week's Executive Council Meeting..."

"This does seem to be one of those ideas that makes you wonder why no one thought of it before"

I agree that the original proposal for a mentor program is a logical and valuable extension of the Society's mission. It would enable us to enhance our presence and provide an important service and experience for all involved, including the history offices."

I also think that the mentorship program is an excellent one and agree with Henry's modifications to Annette's terrific proposal."

There are lots of details to be worked out and responsibilities to be assigned, but for now, it looks as though its moving forward. I'm so happy that the suggestion was taken seriously and may see the light of day. Now on to my next suggestion. I'm already formulating it.

04 October 2007

To Thesis or Not To Thesis

Well, the time has come to start seriously considering (or not) a thesis. With the program I'm in, I have only one class after this one, then I have to decide if I'm going to do a thesis. The reason being is that I have to do my research seminar and my comps before a thesis. If I don't do a thesis I will still have two more courses before the seminar and comps.

Ok, I have a little time, but I need to make up my mind and quit wasting time on it. There are many pros to doing a thesis. It shortens my time in gradschool by a year, saves me money and might even mean being published. However, with the nature of my job, it could mean a great deal MORE stress.

Honestly, I think the hesitation is my own lack of confidence in my abilities. I don't have a topic and I don't even know if I can write well enough--I do great research but the writing is the hard part.

Guess I'll be pondering this for a while.


27 September 2007

Suggestion in!

Well, after much mulling and solicitation of comments from friends and colleagues, the suggestion for the mentor program is submitted to the president of the association. It's time to see what's going to happen. Patience, they tell me, is a virtue.

I hope I have that much virtue.

16 September 2007

World War II Memorial Glorifies War

Yes, someone actually said that to me---not only to me but a whole room of other people. I've been to the memorial several times. Both grandfathers and a dear man who was like a grandfather served in WWII. I don't think I can honestly agree with the person's comments that it glorifies war.

Actually, I was enraged by the person's comment that it glorifies war. For those of you who've not yet had the chance to see the memorial, please do visit it one day. These men and women who served are dying at a rate of 1,200-1,500 a DAY and they were the last to be memorialized in our Nation's capital.

At the center of the memorial, seated at the head of a table as the honored guest, are those who died--represented by stars. It's very moving to be standing there in front of all the stars and realize they represent very human and real people who gave their life for their country. The ultimate sacrifice.

Then, as honored guests at the table, are the states with wreaths again memorializing the dead. How does this glorify war? It doesn't romanticize it either. This memorial makes us remember what sacrifice looks like in large scale. It reminds the nation that when called, millions answered and many knew they were not going to return. They didn't do it for glory. They didn't do it for fame. They did it because they were asked and were grateful for their freedom--so grateful they felt they needed to pay for it with their own life and would do so if need be.

Glorify war? The person who spoke those words needs to stand in front of the stars a little longer and then speak to those veterans who lost their friends, brothers, uncles, fathers, because she obviously hasn't grasped it. She hasn't heard the pain in their voices, not joy. She hasn't heard the humbleness in their voice nor has she seen their tears when remembering their comrades in arms.

Glorify war? Keep dreamin' lady.

08 September 2007

Mentor Program?

There are a ton of “clubs” and professional organizations out there—Society for Military History, Society for History in the Federal Government, Organization of American Historians, American Historical Association, etc. There does not seem to be something along the lines of working historians mentoring students of history (undergrads and recent undergrad graduates). I was thinking of creating something to that effect in conjunction with my alma mater, but their program has suffered so much loss that it's nearly non-existent.

When our interns come each summer, it rejuvenates me. This occurs, I think, because I am interested in the history that I am preserving and my co-workers (those in my office) are interested in preserving their wallets only. That leaves an intellectual void in me. C (name withheld) (intern from the past two summers) has been calling and emailing me off and on since he left to attend grad school—asking for my advice on this and that. That feels REALLY GOOD! I like being asked my opinion and having someone think that I know what I’m talking about (even when I’m not sure I do!haha).

I know a lot of historians, archivists and curators. There are a ton of colleges in this area and a ton of students of history who are like I was in college—unsure of what they wanted to do exactly after college—teach? PhD? And they don’t realize there is so much more to history than just teaching and getting your PhD. What fun would it be for them to be able to have a mentor, someone who could make in-roads for them to see the broader aspects of the historical field? Someone who could help them visit places behind the scenes that they NEVER could on their own?

While I had a significant influence in my undergrad, if I had the opportunity to have a mentor--someone who knew the ropes, knew other avenues of history, would read my papers and give critiques and just be an influential person in my education (much like professors are SUPPOSED to be), I may have been been further along in my career than I am currently. DO NOT get me wrong, I am in a good place--it was really bumpy and so uncertain for a long time getting here. It doesn't have to be, is my point.

I wonder if anyone would be interested.

03 September 2007


Dr Sutton, a former professor of mine, has just been promoted--BIG TIME!

Read on McDuff:

Robert K. Sutton: Appointed to fill long-vacant post as Chief Historian, National Park Service

Source: Press Release--National Park Service (8-30-07)

[HNN Editor: The post of Chief Historian at the NPS has been vacant since June 2005, when Dwight T. Pitcaithley retired.]

The National Park Service (NPS) announces the selection of Dr. Robert K. Sutton as Chief Historian of the National Park Service. The Chief Historian position in the National Park Service is one of the most prestigious historian positions in the Federal government. The Chief Historian provides guidance and direction to the national parks as well as nationwide to the American people on the importance of verifying historical events and interpreting the significance of America’s historic places. The position provides national leadership in setting and implementing NPS standards and guidelines relating to the documentation of historically significant properties. Dr. Sutton will begin his new position on October 1, 2007.

Dr. Sutton has been Superintendent of the Manassas National Battlefield Park since 1995, which has an annual visitation of 800,000. While at Manassas, he initiated a major symposium on the Civil War that attracted renowned scholars and developed an interpretive institute for Civil War park rangers on creating new ways to interpret the Civil War. He oversaw the restoration of a 100-acre area of the park through a creative partnership with the Smithsonian Institution, where the loss of wetlands at the new Air and Space Museum at Dulles Airport was mitigated through the restoration of the Manassas land. He holds a Ph.D. degree in history from Washington State University and has decades of experience in conveying to the public the importance of preserving the nation’s cultural resources.

“We are very pleased that Dr. Sutton has joined the Washington, DC office of the National Park Service as Chief Historian,” said Janet Snyder Matthews, Associate Director, Cultural Resources. “We look forward to working with him on a wide range of history projects, including those that develop from the Centennial of the National Park Service through 2016.”

Dr. Sutton began his career as a park ranger with Fort Vancouver National Historic Site. Subsequent positions include museum curator with the Oregon Historical Society; historian with the Oregon State Parks; architectural historian with the NPS Southwest Regional Office in Albuquerque, New Mexico; historian with Independence National Historic Park; Assistant Professor in the History Department and Director of the Public History Program at Arizona State University; and Assistant Superintendent and historian at National Capital Parks-East. Since 1991, he has served as adjunct professor of history at George Mason University. In 2000, Dr. Sutton received the Department of the Interior’s Meritorious Service Award.

Dr. Sutton is editor of Rally on the High Ground: National Park Service Symposium on the Interpretation of the Civil War; co-author of Majestic in His Wrath: The Life of Frederick Douglass; and author of Americans Interpret the Parthenon: Greek Revival Architecture and the Westward Movement.

Dr. Sutton will be responsible for managing the Service’s history programs, which includes coordinating historical studies at the national level, managing the administrative history program, and overseeing the quality of documentation of historic places within national parks.

21 August 2007

War and Memory

I am half way through my graduate education--on my way to completing my masters in history. As a working historian already in the field and gainfully employed, sometimes the classes come across as tedious or I get a feeling of being "talked down to." The next class I'm taking is War and Memory. As a working military historian, I'm looking forward to this course and the dialogs that are generated between the students and the students with the instructor.

The texts run the gambit of Civil War, race, WWI, Vietnam and 9/11. Regrettably, there's very little covered thus far on WWII. I'm already formulating ideas on research papers - this could be a problem as I haven't even attended the first class this semester.

However, as a historian for the Marine Corps, I can honestly say that it's going to have a Marine Corps 'bent' to it. I'm considering a paper that depicts how the Marine Corps remembers its fallen through the Commemorative Naming Program--with particular emphasis on those buildings, structures, etc named at Marine Corps Base Quantico (where I work). Since MCBQ was established during WWI, some of the records are at the National Archives-I. I can say that the key archivist there is a colleague and it may prove fruitful to spend some time picking his brain and stacks for a day or two.

There are going to be a couple good friends in the class as well. One is a former contract historian and the other is a DOD historian like myself. This should generate some awesome discussions amongst us alone--let alone the rest of the class.

I'm rambling on so I will end this hear for now. Keep coming back, there will be more on the class as the semester progresses.


18 August 2007

Posting from the Farm

It's a beautiful sunny day, no humidity, the dog is lounging on the couch and I'm inside trying to write an article to express my sincere feeling of loss of two historians this past summer and how the organization I work for will go on--thanks in part to the younger generation of historians (like me) who feel the passion.

Obviously, I'm obsessed with work and trying to do better. I'm starting this blog so that I can have a creative outlet for ideas about work, articles, research, and much more. I hope it doesn't degenerate into a pile of steaming whining and gets deleted.

Enjoy. I have a lawn to mow! ;)