Sunday, November 14, 2010

A week of contradictory images

Sunday was the annual Royce Hanson Awards given out by the Countryside Alliance in upper Montgomery County.  Peter Eeg introduced the 2010 honoree, Anthony (Tony) Cohen, who traced the path of the Underground Railroad by walking across Maryland and elsewhere, highlighting many areas in Montgomery County.  His book won national renown and he has been acclaimed for his scholarship in this area.  Tony who began his first journey in the historic community of Sandy Spring, now lives in Olney, Maryland.

The event was held along rustic Black Rock Road at the Historic Button Farm, which is operated as a park and owned by the MNPPC with the aid of the Menare Foundation which was founded to tell the slave story by Tony and others.   The site is being restored to reflect a look at the farming world known to slaves and others in the 19th Century in this area and will eventually have a resource center and living history museum.  A farmhouse dating from the early days of the 20th Century and an even older barn will be centerpieces of the planned historical center.  Today the Farm grows heirloom vegetables using techniques from the past, operates a CSA and donates vegetables to the Manna Food Center. 

The Countryside Alliance is a group which advocates for the Upper Montgomery County area; the Executive Director is Caroline Taylor; information can be found at:

Thursday was a Day for remembering our Veterans, both past and present.  The new Veterans Plaza in Silver Spring and the splendid Silver Spring Civic Center were the sites for a series of day long tributes.  Many veterans organizations held fitting tributes to the fallen, but not forgotten, and to those who still serve.

Veterans bands played, Jazz tributes were offered and public officials paid homage to the troops. Many Native Americans were present to reflect their service in the military units here also.   In an evening ceremony, young dancers gave rousing and talented performances with contemporary, traditional and exploratory dance exhibitions.  The Maryland Youth Ballet and The Round House Theatre both had troupes whose performers showed great professionalism.  Congressman Chris Van Hollen spoke and urged public members to visit the injured at Walter Reed or Bethesda Naval to display our gratitude and concern for their well being.  Events such as PTSD, or amputated limbs do not end with a war, they stay with the service member and their families for the remainder of their lives.  Military suicides are increasing. Many of our current homeless are veterans of the current or previous wars and have never found their way back to being who they once used to be.  It is right that we as a society should pause to say thanks.

The evening ended with a talented blues band playing very spirited music to a then sparse crowd, unfortunately. 

In the days of a volunteer military, fewer families have members in the military forces, unlike the days of World War ll when nearly every family was touched by war.  There can sometimes be a disconnect between the civilian and the military populations.  Some espouse peace, others advocate for war.   Either way, when our country calls, the military answers the call and whether we personally agree with the mission or not, we need to be grateful for their service.

The week ended on a decidedly strange note as news reports told of the FBI's arrest of Prince George's County Executive Jack Johnson and his wife, Leslie, a newly elected -- but not yet installed -- County Council  member, on charges of corruption, witness and evidence tampering as well as destruction and alteration of records in a federal investigation.  Apparently wiretaps were made of incriminating conversations and videos were taken of illegal actions.   Of course, all are innocent until proven guilty, but initial reports do not look good for many in our neighboring county.  Newly elected County Executive, Rushern Baker, will soon take office in an atmosphere much more difficult than he earlier anticipated. 
As one who has run for office, valued the trust of others and cheered public integrity, I can only ask: what were they thinking?  And, as someone asked me this morning, how could $79,000 supposedly fit into a bra?  As is said -- stay tuned.

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