Our view: A weekend to reflect
After a week of torrential rains, damp basements, the news of deadly tornadoes and devastating floods, and city money troubles that threaten to hit every one of us where it hurts most, in our pocketbooks, who in Duluth couldn't use a weekend to p...
After a week of torrential rains, damp basements, the news of deadly tornadoes and devastating floods, and city money troubles that threaten to hit every one of us where it hurts most, in our pocketbooks, who in Duluth couldn't use a weekend to pause, to reflect, to honor and to remember?
It's a perfect weekend for just that.
For starters, today, June 14, is Flag Day, a celebration with its roots in 1885 in nearby Fredonia, Wis. A schoolteacher there first carried the banner to forever recognize the 108th anniversary of the official adoption of the Stars and Stripes, as "Flag Birthday." For more than a century, schoolchildren and others planned and held ceremonies to honor Old Glory as a lasting symbol of our nation and of our freedoms. Participating nowadays is as simple as a made-in-the-U.S.A. flag -- whether worn on a lapel, held by hand or flown from a porch -- and respect.
And where did many of us learn respect? From our fathers, who get their day tomorrow. In 1909, a woman in Spokane, Wash., named Sonora Smart Dodd heard a Mother's Day speech and got to thinking about how her father, William Jackson Smart, raised her after her mother died. She organized the first Father's Day, but it wasn't until 1972 that President Richard Nixon established a permanent, national observance.
On a more somber historic note, in addition to being Father's Day, June 15 also is the anniversary of Duluth's darkest hour. In 1920, three black circus workers, falsely accused of raping a white girl, were taken from their jail cells in downtown Duluth, marched a block up the hillside to Second Avenue East and First Street and lynched from a street lamp post. The mob numbered in the thousands, some of whom, wearing eerie, sickish smiles, posed for photographs with the bodies. We remember because to remain silent would only add to the injustice. We remember because forgetting can lead to repeating the mistakes of the past.
Duluth's annual Day of Remembrance -- with poetry, music and reflection -- is at noon Monday at the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial. Also, Warren Read of Seattle, the great grandson of one of the mob organizers, will be joined by relatives of Elmer Jackson in planting a tree at Park Hill Cemetery on Vermilion Road.
When it comes to Duluth history, few places hold as much of it as tiny John Jacob Astor Park in the far western Fond du Lac neighborhood. The park is home to a glacial boulder, and it marks the location of a former Ojibwe village, of a 1793 fur-trading post, of the first Ojibwe treaty signed in Minnesota, and, in 1816, of Astor's American Fur Co. A pair of Duluth chapters of the Daughters of the American Revolution has owned the park since 1927. But on Monday, at an event open to the public, they're deeding the property, known as Historical Park, to the city of Duluth, so it can be preserved and its history remembered forever.
That's one full weekend, spilling as it does into Monday. But reflecting on who we are, where we are and where we come from shouldn't be rushed.