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.