History making news again

Just a random collection of news stories about where the past meets the present that caught my eye recently. These include the memorial statue for Martin Luther King, Jr.; ex-slaves of U.S. presidents forming their own community in downtown Washington; and a man lies his way into a book about the men who photographed the atom bomb drop over Japan.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial statue ready to be shipped from China. The graphic in the piece shows relative heights of other grand statues in the capital city:

  • Thos. Jefferson statue: 19 ft.
  • Lincoln statue (seated), 19.5 ft.
  • Statue of Freedom (on Capitol), 19.5 ft.
  • MLK statue, standing, 30 ft.

The memorial will be the first commemorating any African-American on the National Mall, and a fitting tribute to the man who perhaps more than any other after Lincoln called upon America to put the words of the Declaration of Independence into action. Kingís memorial so near the Lincoln Memorial is apt, as at that place he delivered one of the most powerful orations in history. Here I refer to his “I Have a Dream” speech at the Lincoln Memorial, August 28, 1963.

Ex-slaves of early presidents formed a small community in downtown D.C., where banks, lobbying firms and a popular Border’s bookstore are now located. When I’m not commuting past the Farragut statue down the street, I commuter-walk through this area. There is not a whiff of the early 19th century past in this area, alas, but it is worth contemplating the way these freedmen built their own community here. One of them, Paul Jennings, was instrumental in helping to evacuate the White House as British soldiers attacked the Federal City in 1814. Jennings also later penned a memoir.

Man lies about membership in camera plane crew photographic atomic bombing of Japan. This one was really fascinating, as the lie made it all the way into print. Author Charles Pellegrino was “duped” by a man named Joesph Fuoco, who claimed to have been a last-second substitute as a flight engineer on one of the photography planes recording the detonation of the atomic bomb over Hiroshima in August 1945. Pellegrino’s book, The Last Train From Hiroshima, got a nice review in the paper, but only a few days later surviving members of the squadron began noticing and voicing their concerns. The paper subsequently reported that the author is removing Fuoco from all future editions, giving full credit to James R. Corliss’s participation as flight engineer on the plane. One wonders if James Cameron will want a refund on the film rights that he purchased.

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