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You Shall Not Pass!

Metal Man

This fierce man of metal has stood guard on the west side of SR 169 in Maple Valley for years. He guards a picturesque pasture between the Red Dog, the local dive bar, and the Seattle Agility Center.

Normally this burly denizen has a rather robotic-looking, nutsy and boltsy sort of head. He now appears to be sporting a woolly wild man mask with ram’s horns. I did a double-take while driving past the other day because he looked so real.

Whoever welded together this tin man and his trident did a great job posing him. I for one would feel a little wary climbing that fence, as if a real person could be hiding inside the armor, waiting to lurch at trespassers like in those scarecrow prank videos.

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©2015 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

Lincoln’s Shadows

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Now more than one hundred years old, Lincoln High School in Tacoma, Washington is home to a 1918 statue of Lincoln by Alonzo Victor Lewis.

One recent evening I paid a visit to Mr. Lincoln as the evening sun blazed in the west just over the rooftops, which made picture taking challenging.

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But the shadows were fabulous.

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The sun behind Honest Abe was blinding so I positioned myself in front of his likeness in order to see. The result was a subtle halo…

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Stepping back farther I snapped this photo, at the time not realizing that the angle of the buildings made our 16th president appear to have wings.

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This is a more typical view.

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The inscription on the base was difficult to read. I couldn’t tell who erected the statue.

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There are so many years of deep and colorful history on these grounds. Generation upon generation has passed through here and many have already gone on to that brilliant realm where they actually get to meet the man behind the bronze visage.

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Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power. -Abraham Lincoln

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©2015 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

The UDC memorial the evening of July 13th, 2015

The UDC memorial the evening of July 13th, 2015

This morning I woke up to a headline on KOMO’s website that simultaneously made my heart sink and my blood boil, Group wants Confederate monument removed from local cemetery.

SEATTLE – A Confederate monument in Capitol Hill’s Lake View Cemetery is in the spotlight as a local group calls for its removal.

For more than a century, Lake View Cemetery has been the final resting place for many of Seattle’s pioneers.

Only a short walk from one of the cemetery’s most visited grave sites – that of Bruce Lee – a 14-foot granite monument memorializes Washington state’s Confederate veterans and their families.

“Just because it’s a military memorial doesn’t justify it,” Charlette LaFevere says. “It’s offensive.”

LeFevere is part of a small group calling on Seattle city leaders to have the 89-year-old United Confederate Veterans Memorial taken down.

“To me this is the most racist monument in the Northwest,” says LaFevere.

Just this weekend I read Marjorie Ann Reeves’ book about the Robert E. Lee Chapter #885 of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, the local chapter of this heritage group that was established in 1890. The Seattle chapter was founded in 1905 and has a proud history of supporting our country and community. They have worked jointly with other civic and patriotic organizations for 110 years.

Given how clear the modern UDC is that its objectives are historical, educational, benevolent, memorial and patriotic— and especially that it is not a racist organization– I strongly suggest these complainants get to know the people who erected and care for the memorial before accusing them of racism. A recent post on a Seattle P-I blog suggested that the memorial is a not-so-veiled KKK monument that serves no historical purpose and has no place in Seattle.

WHEREAS, The United Daughters of the Confederacy® is a patriotic Organization which honors and upholds the United States of America and respects its Flag, AND

WHEREAS, The United Daughters of the Confederacy® does not subscribe to policies of individuals, groups or organizations that do not honor and respect the United States of America and its Flag,

THEREFORE, BE IT KNOWN, that The United Daughters of the Confederacy® does not associate with or include in its official UDC functions and events, any individual, group or organization known as unpatriotic, militant, racist or subversive to the United States of America and its Flag, AND

BE IT FURTHER KNOWN, that The United Daughters of the Confederacy® will not associate with any individual, group or organization identified as being militant, unpatriotic, racist or subversive to the United States of America and its Flag.

The recent vandalism of the UDC monument, from https://twitter.com/Teamstrannon/

The recent vandalism of the UDC monument, from https://twitter.com/Teamstrannon/

Does this group know the ladies of the local UDC chapter, who originally raised the memorial and now care for it– and have to repair it when vandals hit? I do. They are descendants of Confederate veterans who are passionate about history and love their country. Not all are Southerners. Not all are Americans, even. They are a diverse group who choose to honor their ancestors– not slavery. It is narrow-minded indeed to assume that everyone who fought for the South, descended from the South, or educates others about the South is a racist.

Unfortunately, in school we are taught generalizations that have many adults thinking, “Northerners didn’t own slaves and all Southerners did” or “All Northerners were against slavery and all Southerners were for it.” Both statements are untrue. It’s also not true that the primary motivation for Southern soldiers to fight was to keep their slaves. Many didn’t own slaves or even approve of slavery. As I stated in a recent post, Remembering the Blue and Gray (which correctly predicted that someone would vandalize the Seattle UDC memorial):

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, like many Americans, I have both Union and Confederate ancestors. At the time of this writing, more than a month after the G.A.R. Cemetery cleanup, anti-Confederate fervor is at a high not known in decades after the Charleston church shooting. I hesitate to include these photos because I’m concerned that some historically-ignorant or bigoted person will take it upon themselves to deface this piece of history. It will cost some wonderful staunchly non-racist women at the United Daughters of the Confederacy dearly out of their own pockets if something bad happens. This has already been vandalized in the past, but probably not for anti-Confederate reasons.

There were a number of issues driving the Civil War, namely the role of the federal government, states’ rights, preserving the Union, and economic issues. Ultimately the South believed it should have the right to break away. Slavery was certainly a prominent component of all of these issues, but many people didn’t take up arms to end or defend slavery. They asked why the federal government had the right to force them to be part of a union they felt they should be able to choose to secede from.

Similar questions are being asked in light of Supreme Court rulings this week both by those who agree and disagree with those outcomes– does the federal government have the right to dictate to the states? Or does the Constitution allow the states to make most decisions for themselves? In that context, it’s easier to understand why Southerners took up arms. Of course some were adamant about maintaining the ungodly institution of slavery, but it’s ignorant and offensive to suggest that all Confederates and/or Southerners were racist. My Confederate was multiracial and like many, a grandson of a Revolutionary War veteran. Many Southerners probably saw their cause as very similar to that which created our country in the first place.

Destroying Confederate memorials is only gasoline on the fire. Broad generalizations will only deepen the rifts vandals claim to be fighting against. While I absolutely condemn slavery and repeatedly remind people that the ground is level at the foot of the cross– no man is above another– I also choose to honor my Confederate ancestors and to preserve their history. We can show respect for the people who fought for what their home turf thought was right without agreeing with any erroneous ideologies. The Union and Confederate troops are part of our history and to erase the Confederacy from our memory will come to no good end. We must teach our children the whole story.

As a Christian, I am squarely against racism and slavery. My heavenly boss mandates that; many of my ancestors were outspoken against that horror. But racism has become a convenient catch-all term for anything certain people groups don’t like. For example, I don’t like how certain cultures that come to our country promote violence against women. Some will be quick to cry “racist!” when my dislike has nothing to do with race. The ideologies of which I speak transcend race and permeate many cultures. Even if a group of men who all look exactly alike treat women as substandard beings, I would still call out that behavior, and that still doesn’t make me a racist.

So I would ask people to consider what they really mean before calling someone or something racist. They’re not racist just because you don’t like it/them. They’re not racist just because you say so. The biggest demonstration of intolerance I’ve seen in this case so far is the call to have a historical monument removed in a free country– and in a city that claims to be so tolerant and inclusive. A friend of mine asked why the defacing of the UDC monument is not being treated as a hate crime. That’s a valid question.

But I remind myself that, in our area, practicing bigotry and intolerance is often okay when you claim to be acting out against bigotry and intolerance. That’s what it feels like in Seattle in 2015, especially when a vocal minority cries out for this monument’s removal as the city continues to turn a blind eye to its gigantic statue of one of the 20th century’s most prolific mass murderers, Lenin. And to whoever felt enlightened enough to vandalize the UDC memorial, it is never okay to desecrate someone’s grave site, especially not a fellow American’s or a solider’s. That is sacred ground.

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Those calling for the monument’s removal also need to be educated about who, exactly, lies at rest below this arch. I talked about some of them in Remembering the Blue and GrayThese men spent a few years of their youth fighting for the South and then relocated to the Northwest, becoming productive and accomplished local citizens. Local historian Matt McCauley pointed out that the original founders of Seattlle were abolitionists and Union sympathizers. There was strong Northern sentiment here and the former Confederate soldiers who moved here knew that. McCauley said you could not live and do business in 1865 to 1920 Seattle and have been a slavery supporter; “you’d have been an outcast.”

While I can’t speak for the men buried at the UDC monument, I will say it’s possible to love the South and its way of life separate from endorsing the egregious horror that is slavery. Having strong feelings for the South, being from the South, and loving a Southern way of life are not synonymous with wanting or loving the unconscionable abuse and sale of fellow human beings. McCauley reminded me that many anti-slavery Southerners were conscripted or enlisted (in the Confederate cause) due to state loyalty. Some asked how they could take up arms against their own people, communities, and states. Do not assume that these men were slave owners or racists or bigots because they wore gray instead of blue. And lest we treat slave owning or racism or bigotry as unpardonable sins, God forgives upon request. People and organizations can evolve.

Returning to Marjorie Ann Reeves’ A Chapter in Pacific Northwest History, it was in 1926 that a 10-ton block of granite was shipped from Stone Mountain, Georgia to Seattle via the Panama Canal. The UDC had begun plans for a Confederate memorial at Stone Mountain a decade prior, one which was partially financed by the federal government. Edward G. Messett and James A. Wehn designed and sculpted the Seattle monument, with the bronze plaque of Robert E. Lee’s head a gift from Wehn. The cornerstone of the monument was laid on April 11th and it was unveiled on Memorial Day. In attendance, and even speaking, “were Washington State Governor Roland G. Hartley, Seattle Mayor Edwin J. Brown, Tacoma Mayor-Elect M.G. Tennent, and leaders of veterans groups from all over the state.”

Seattle Mayor Edwin J. Brown, may I point out, was a Socialist. This book contains a photo of a May 14th, 1926 letter from him to the local UDC chapter that says, “I thank you for your kind invitation to attend the exercises and speaking on the occasion of the unveiling of the Confederate Monument in Lakeview Cemetery… and shall be pleased to be present.” Governor Hartley was a Republican and Republicans had long been against slavery. The veterans would have been of various political and religious persuasions. Some had fought on the Union side. It was common, by this point, for Confederate and Union veterans to appear at public events together, like in parades.

Do  you see where I’m going with this? This region was able to unite to commemorate the war’s dead and acknowledge their common past. They did not seek to erase it. They sought to heal from it, to learn from it, and to move on. Reeves mentioned that a Confederate flag was displayed at this ceremony– General George E. Pickett’s battle flag from Gettysburg, which was displayed with the U.S. flag. Right now a knee jerk reaction to the murders of my brothers and sisters in Christ in Charleston is to erase Southern symbols from our culture, including this flag. It’s easier and more visible to make superficial public gestures like that than make the daily effort to reach out to and love others different than ourselves. The former can be paraded on social media as well.

The UDC memorial in May 2015

The UDC memorial in May 2015

Page 35 of Reeves’ book has a clipping from a local paper showing a picture of the UDC monument, and the unknown writer’s words need to be read by those attacking this memorial and calling for its destruction:

Blue and Gray Pay Honor to Heroic Dead

Confederate Monument Dedication Attended by Seattle Veterans; Unity Held Cemented

The great understanding of American ideals and principles, of American perseverance and ability that came of the Civil War, was brought home forcefully to the large number of people who attended and participated in the unveiling of a Confederate monument in Lake View Cemetery yesterday afternoon. 

Significant of the present unity of the nation was the cosmopolitan character of principals in the ceremony. Veterans of the blue and veterans of the gray sat side by side on the speakers’ platform. Colored color sergeants standing beside the memorial throughout the dedicatory exercises revived keen memories of the purpose of the struggle between the North and the South. 

NEVER AGAIN

Veterans of the Spanish-American War touched elbows with the olive drab of participants in the World War. Representatives of organizations dedicated to veteran relief work were present from all parts of the state. 

M.G. Tennant, mayor-elect of Tacoma, struck the keynote of the occasion when he declared that the great understanding that has come out of the struggle justifies its terrible cost. “We know now that never again will there be a division in the United States,” he said. 

The monument marks consummation of a dream of Southern women in the Northwest of more than two decades ago, declared Mrs. May Avery Wilkins, president of the Washington Division of the United Daughters of the Confederacy. The monument is sponsored by the Robert E. Lee Chapter No. 885 of that organization. 

Tribute to the valor and devotions of the soldiers of the Confederacy was paid by Mrs. Bradley T. Fowles, president of the chapter, by Mrs. Blackman of the Mildred Lee Chapter of Spokane, and by Mrs. J.D. Smith, president of Dixie Chapter of Tacoma. 

MONUMENT DEDICATED

“We are here to dedicate this monument to a cause that cemented America forever, ” said Mayor Edwin J. Brown. D.B. Trefethen spoke on behalf of the Seattle Chamber of Commerce; State Commander William Downey of the Spanish War Veterans on behalf of that organization, and B. Schwellenbach on behalf of the American Legion, of which he is state adjutant. 

Again, note the diversity of the people present. Note that they were united, not divided. Note that no one saw it weird or bigoted or politically incorrect to dedicate such a memorial. While some would argue that this was almost 90 years ago, at a time when minorities were not yet recognized as equal, I find this event far more inclusive and open-minded than some of the divisive and partisan functions the Seattle area hosts today. We live in a free country, yet there a rapidly increasing number of people who claim that others’ freedoms should be shut down to accommodate their own views. That’s not what freedom is about. That is slavery.

Ultimately those who want to wipe the South’s history off of the map and sanitize America of views or symbols that don’t sit right with their own need to get to know our shared history. I would also note that these same people would scream “freedom of speech!” if someone of an opposing view asked them to rid themselves of symbols that might be deemed offensive. They need to understand that a major reason for preserving our common history is so our children know their past and make better choices.

In this case, they should know who put the UDC memorial up and why. They need to acknowledge that the people who maintain the memorial are not racist and are allowed to honor their heritage as well as the Northwesterners buried there. If they truly want to make a difference in the injustice and bigotry in our society, they should start by having their facts in order and by choosing to build others up rather than tearing American history, with all its twists, turns, and flaws, down.

We need to be intimately familiar with our past, and we can love and honor those who came before us without liking everything they did. We can forgive the past instead of trying to reignite the Civil War in the name of political correctness, and celebrate what we have in common rather than disturbing the dead. Most of us wouldn’t imagine marching into a cemetery and demanding to remodel someone else’s burial plot. If I felt the modern UDC’s motivation to maintain this memorial was racist, I wouldn’t waste a second of my time defending it.

The bottom line is, Seattle, take the Lenin out of your own eye. Don’t tear down. Do as those present at the dedication of this memorial did. Heal. Learn. Build. Unite. Lead.

Never again. 

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I visited the UDC memorial tonight, and aside from it looking very clean and a green discoloration near a small plaque of the Confederate flag, I don’t see evidence of the recent vandalism, so thank you to Lake View for cleaning this up so well already. Let’s hope people have the respect, dignity, and maturity to leave this alone in the future.

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Those who do not look upon themselves as links connecting the past with the future do not perform their duty to the world. -Daniel Webster

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Update, 7/14/15: KIRO Radio featured this topic this morning, TOM AND CURLEYShould Seattle remove its memorial to the Confederacy? (click to listen) They mentioned how King County, Washington– where Seattle is– was originally named after “a Confederate guy.” King County decided to consider itself named in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. instead of William Rufus Devane King because the latter was a slaveholder. See A look at King County’s original (ex) namesake. Note that King was a Unionist– meaning he opposed secession.

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©2015 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

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Shh. Don’t tell anyone. We haven’t gotten any meaningful amount of rain in Seattle for at least a couple of months and have been stricken by a heat wave. It’s supposed to be nearly 100 tomorrow and will climb over 90 today. We want out-of-staters to believe that it rains all the time here so they don’t move here.

Some of you might laugh at us being miserable in 90+ degree weather, but that is abnormally hot for us this time of year. We’ve been breaking records right and left. Despite the broiling temperature, many people made it out to what’s long been one of the best local parades this side of the Cascades. Although Bothell has decided to reinvent itself and the downtown area looks like a meteorite slammed into it as high rises sprout out of the debris, the parade retains most of the hometown America feel it’s always had.

Attendance was not what it was in the other years I’ve been to Bothell’s event. It might have been the heat; it might have been the shock caused by recent Supreme Court decisions that will restrict our freedoms even more. Some people feel confused about whether to celebrate our country or not right now. But in Bothell, you’re not likely to be scrunched in next to a drunk guy yelling things he believes are cool and clever as his $50 too-tight tee sweats some nauseating designer fragrance. There’s room to breathe and the vast majority of people are polite and personable. They cheer, they clap, they have fun, and they celebrate America.

This group of veterans from the local American Legion post carried the colors at the front of the parade. I was so impressed when a mother in front of me asked her teenagers to stand that I had to thank her (and then forgot to take off my hat).

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Yes, we love our firefighters. This is Bothell Fire’s vintage engine.

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Lights and sirens and firemen, oh my!

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It’s a longstanding tradition for the families and friends of Fire employees to ride on the engines as well.

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The American Legion vehicles and floats are always flamboyantly festooned with flags.

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I missed getting a shot of the muscle-bound O2 superhero guy that preceded Community Transit’s bus, but he knew how to work the crowd.

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The Masons brought the Washington Monument– and George Washington or a close relative.

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People from around the world visit my blog, so it might not be normal for them to see a dancing clam in their town. In the Northwest, it’s been very normal for a long time. We don’t even blink. It’s just “one of Ivar’s clams.” Local businessman Ivar Haglund was involved in all kinds of shenanigans like The Great Syrup Spill and underwater billboards. Click on his name for a good laugh.

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The Knights of Columbus always lend a regal air to the procession.

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Americans: we like cars. Enough said.

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Several Boy Scout troops marched in the parade.

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People do crazy things with their vehicles in Fourth of July parades– and I love it!

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There are always some real vintage beauties…

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This group didn’t carry a banner, but the crowd applauded loudly for these vaqueros and their dancing horses. The horses were gorgeous and highly trained. I got a kick out of them being stopped in front of the Ranch for a few minutes until the parade got moving again.

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Paddle sports are becoming increasingly popular in our region. You’ll see paddle boarders on our local lakes a lot.

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The Cub Scout on the end was a hoot to watch.

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The Bothell Sons of Norway are always present to spread hearty Viking cheer.

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Thankfully this Viking knew to use his non-sword hand.

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“Hail to the king, baby.” -Bruce Campbell

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Scottish pride! It’s not a parade without the pipes and drums.

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Our local Sikhs had one of the livelier groups, drumming and dancing.

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The Yakima Fruit Stand is to Bothell what the Empire State Building is to New York City. It’s inextricably linked.

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Hydros of all sizes are part of summer in Seattle.

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I don’t know if this was the woman running for City Council or one of her supporters, but I heartily approve of her outfit.

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The Kenmore Shooting Range entry had a ram in the back that made me do a double take… it was fake. And yeah, let freedom ring, people!

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This was one of the smallest vehicles in the parade. If it were up to the Seattle City Council, we’d all be driving vehicles this size.

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The original American patriots.

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This British soldier was calling out to the crowd, telling them, “Join the British Army! See the world!” He was the sole redcoat present.

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This might have been the smallest horse in the parade, but he was definitely the coolest. And most patriotic.

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This might be my favorite shot of the day. Many sports teams participate in the parade. Many soak spectators with water. Today that was very, very welcome, and they were having a blast, pun intended, doing it.

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A local Muslim group chanted, “U.S.A.! U.S.A.!”

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Who ya gonna call?

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Fred Flintstone made an appearance. I think Barney was covering the Kirkland parade.

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This really is a fun antiques store if you’re ever in downtown Bothell.

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Bothell did a great job putting on this parade. One question on everyone’s minds, though, was “where are the Seafair pirates?” We all heard the Moby Duck’s mortar at the start of the parade; I couldn’t believe the guy next to me brought his dog because not only was it too hot, but that boom can be heard for miles. No one knows where the boisterous, booming pirates were. That was a bummer.

There needed to be more music and marching bands. There were some long stretches in-between parade entries. But kudos to Bothell for keeping this wonderful local tradition alive. Happy Fourth, all! Now onto the next stop…

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Sure I wave the American flag. Do you know a better flag to wave? Sure I love my country with all her faults. I’m not ashamed of that, never have been, never will be. -John Wayne

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©2015 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

May we turn back towards Him swiftly so we don’t lose our many blessings. No nation on earth has ever been as blessed as we have.

From KOMO

From KOMO

Not again. Residents of central Washington are still picking up the pieces from the Carlton Complex Fires less than a year ago and since Sunday Wenatchee, Washington has been in flames.

Last I heard, 4000 acres were on fire or had been burned, two fruit packing plants had been destroyed, and 28 houses– primary residences, not vacation homes– had been obliterated. Embers were dropping all over downtown in the 100+ degree heat and there had been an ammonia leak at one of the plants. A thousand people had been told to evacuate. As of tonight it sounds like the fire is under control but the danger continues.

If you haven’t seen the photos already, you can view 70 photos taken by a photographer at KOMO’s site, Photographer captures heart-breaking scenes of wildfire’s rage.

People and animals could use your help. One report said the escaped and displaced animals were overwhelming the Humane Society. According to KING 5:

Several groups are helping aid families affected by the Wenatchee wildfire and are accepting donations.

The Community Foundation of NCW has established a fire fund to help support firefighters and displaced families and animals affected by the fires in the Wenatchee Valley.

The “Sleepy Hollow Heights Fire Support” will provide food and other needs. Monetary donations can be made online here or at the Community Foundation office at 9 S. Wenatchee Ave., Wenatchee, WA 98801.

American Red Cross Serving the Greater Inland Northwest

Wenatchee Valley Humane Society

The Wenatchee World will continue to post updates. They also have Photo gallery: Aerial view of fire damage.

The weather is hotter and drier than normal here in western Washington this year. We’ve had a major lack of rain. To avoid tragedies like the Wenatchee conflagration, please consider forgoing the fireworks this year. Many cities ban them anyway. You can watch them at many public celebrations.

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©2015 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

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I long to be in the Field again, doing my part to keep the old flag up, with all its stars. -Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain,  20th Maine Infantry

On a recent Saturday in late May, Boy Scout Troop 100 from Ballard gathered at the Grand Army of the Republic Cemetery in Seattle to clean up the grounds and grave markers. Having previously inquired who maintains this sacred site, a member of the Friends of the G.A.R. Cemetery invited me to the work party.

Most Seattleites know where Lakeview Cemetery is on Capitol Hill. It is a popular tourist attraction because it’s where martial arts legend Bruce Lee and his son Brandon are buried. Many don’t realize that just next door is the final resting place of 526 men and women, most of them Union veterans of the Civil War. You can see the G.A.R. Cemetery through the wire fence on the north side of Lakeview.

The Grand Army of the Republic, G.A.R., was an organization comprised of Union veterans, the last of whom died in 1956. The Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War (SUVCW) website tells us more:

Men who had lived together, fought together, foraged together and survived, had developed an unique bond that could not be broken. As time went by the memories of the filthy and vile environment of camp life began to be remembered less harshly and eventually fondly. The horror and gore of battle lifted with the smoke and smell of burnt black powder and was replaced with the personal rain of tears for the departed comrades. Friendships forged in battle survived the separation and the warriors missed the warmth of trusting companionship that had asked only total and absolute commitment.

With that as background, groups of men began joining together — first for camaraderie and then for political power. Emerging most powerful among the various organizations would be the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR), which by 1890 would number 409,489 veterans of the “War of the Rebelion.”

Founded in Decatur, Illinois on April 6, 1866 by Benjamin F. Stephenson, membership was limited to honorably discharged veterans of the Union Army, Navy, Marine Corps or the Revenue Cutter Service who had served between April 12, 1861 and April 9, 1865.

At some point in the 1890s, a number of Union veterans who had moved to western Washington decided that they wanted to be buried together. Some of the first Jewish settlers in Seattle, Huldah and David Kaufman, donated the land for the cemetery in 1895. According to HistoryLink, guardians of our local history, the City of Seattle acquired the title to most of the land in 1923, but I’ve been told that the matter of who, exactly, owns what is still legally murky. Seattle Parks and the Friends of the G.A.R. Cemetery jointly maintain the property. HistoryLink also tells us that the Coast Artillery Corps used the site for an anti-aircraft search light battery and barracks in World War II.

On hand during Troop 100’s cleanup were some very knowledgeable experts on the cemetery and the Civil War like Lee Corbin, Jim Dimond, and reenactor Peter Coulton of SUVCW, who honored his ancestors with his Prussian blue uniform. Although it was on my mind the entire time, I failed to note the name of the female historian and genealogist who guided me around the cemetery and was brimming with amazing facts and anecdotes. I would like to be able to give proper credit if someone could remind me.

In this first photo is the resting place of a member of the U.S. Colored Troops– U.S.C.T., which you can see at the lower right. As many Americans know from the 1989 film Glory, starring Matthew Broderickblack soldiers served in separate units. The G.A.R. Cemetery did not make this distinction.

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Here Troop 100, after planting flags at the central monument, begins to clean the multitude of grave markers. Note how they are all lying down but their shape and style indicates that they should be standing up. This was because of vandalism– there are those with no respect for the dead who find it entertaining to knock their headstones over. Unfortunately, this might have caused the wording to wear off of them more quickly. Many markers are in poor shape and barely readable. Some have already been replaced with newer styles. Per federal protocol, the old markers must be destroyed. IMG_4047

On the lower left you can see an authentic cast iron marker that was placed at many Union graves. Peter Coulton explained that you will rarely see these anymore because they are stolen, particularly by metal thieves. As we in the Puget Sound area know, there are plenty of drug-addicted opportunists who have no respect for the living or the dead.

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On each of these freshly washed weathered stones you can see the unit the veteran served in and which state they’re from. The markers were not intended to be this dark but have aged as the decades have passed. The scouts placed an American flag at each grave to honor their service.

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Clifford Hervey served in the Colored Infantry (C INF).

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This man, whose name I’d have to look up in the directory because the stone’s so far gone, served in the Mexican-American War which began 14 years before the Civil War in 1846 (M.W. is Mexican War). This is when the U.S. gained the American Southwest. I probably wouldn’t have noticed this except for my nameless guide who seemed to know each soldier personally.

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Here you can tell that this marker once stood upright on the square base, but like the others, it has either been broken off or laid down to keep that from happening.

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Yes, there is someone buried here. According to my notes, this might have been John Ryan Smith, who died in Issaquah alone and forgotten. Evidently he had Civil War memorabilia in his house but no one’s been able to prove he was actually a veteran. His temporary marker disintegrated.

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From 1921 to 1972, this is the style of marker that was used for veterans. Theron Lane’s family placed this in the 1940s.

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The Friends placed Jacob Davidson’s marker in 2001. We speculated about what might have been intended for the top as there’s some significant blank space there.

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Here’s an example of a marker in bad shape. I’m fairly certain I was told that the War Department issued this style prior to 1921. They were made of Vermont marble and came in several different widths. The 10″ width markers were ordered before 1906.

Despite the weathering, do we trust that it is who the marker says anyway? Evidently some of these veterans were originally buried across the way in Lakeview and the crew that transferred their remains to the G.A.R. Cemetery didn’t read or speak good English. It is said that a few of the coffins might have been mixed up in transit. Additionally, there are five “unknowns” in the cemetery although the Friends seem to know who they are.

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Okay, this is a good story… These markers had just been cleaned by the Scouts but one clearly stood out from the rest. We discussed whether Griswold’s was made of a different type of stone and what sort of resilience it might have that the others don’t. I was quite intrigued by the condition of Griswold’s marker. It was dazzling.

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So the next day, after a two-hour tour of the Kirkland Cemetery, where the Parks Department had marked veterans’ graves with flags and white crosses, I was talking to the historian conducting the tour about a cleaner he uses to brighten headstones. As I was told at the G.A.R. Cemetery, well-meaning people can do horrific damage to them by using the wrong kind of cleaner. Some people use whatever cleaner makes the marker the lightest and shiniest only to see it fall apart with a couple years. The National Parks Service even has a Best Practice Recommendations for Cleaning Government Issued Headstones.

When the historian, Matt McCauley, heard that I’d been at the G.A.R. Cemetery, he asked, “did you see Griswold?” I knew exactly who he was talking about. “Why yes,” I said. “There was a lot of discussion about why his marker looked so different than the others.” It turned out that Matt had used his special order, $70 a gallon cleaner from back east on Griswold’s marker. So Matt– it was you! We had a pretty good laugh about this. Check out Matt’s Kirkland Historical Foundation page and his fascinating book A Look To The Past: Kirkland: From wilderness to high-tech – Kirkland history in 50 vignettes.

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This monument was placed by the Woman’s Relief Corps, an auxiliary of the G.A.R. organized in 1883.

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Here lies Medal of Honor recipient Frank Bois. As you can see, he served on the ironclad U.S.S. Cincinnati. You can read about him and the 19 other Medal of Honor recipients living in Washington in the early 1900s here. At Vicksburg the Cincinnati had been shot to pieces but tenacious Quartermaster Bois stayed on the sinking, burning ship and nailed the American flag to the broken mast to keep the colors flying. Interestingly, the Cincinnati had been sunk and raised once before and would be raised again. Sadly, Bois later died in a Skid Row flophouse. (Side note: dish soap can’t be used on all types of markers, mild as it seems.)

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The hardworking scouts of Troop 100 were very efficient at placing flags. They worked in teams, with one creating a hole in the ground and the other placing the flag. Their leaders obviously knew what they were doing and I was amazed at what they were able to get done in a relatively short amount of time.

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More awesome and heartfelt work by Troop 100.

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Seeing row upon row of clean markers with the stars and stripes above them created a warm and reverent ambiance.

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Hundreds of graves received the royal treatment.

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See the skinny marker on the lower right? There are many Union wives buried here too. The 75 veterans’ widows in the G.A.R. Cemetery are generally on the flanks but there are some buried with their husbands. While I don’t know if this particular stone is an original, I was told that the narrow ones were the original markers. Some are hopelessly worn. Some families bought civilian markers to replace the originals.

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This appears to be one of the family-purchased, civilian style markers. It obviously used to stand upright.

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A directory and pertinent information is contained in this kiosk at the entrance of the cemetery. It’s fascinating to read through the list and discover just how many states and units are represented. These veterans came to the Northwest from all over the country.

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This quote from Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. is engraved on a large boulder facing the cemetery. It says, “In our youth our hearts were touched with fire. We have shared the incommunicable experience of war. We have felt, we still feel, the passion of life to the top.”

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A job well done: Ballard Boy Scout Troop 100 poses for a group photo.

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Here a couple is buried together. Fred evidently outlived Kate, which was not typical. Someone had already placed flowers on their grave.

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This is the layout of the cemetery as posted in the kiosk. My mystery guide said it might have been designed to resemble a lodgeroom. Evidently there used to be a ceremonial stand here as well with a temporary rostrum on either side.

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You’d think people would already know this. But the first time I visited the cemetery, someone was walking their dogs through it. Every time, I see people with dogs there, and it’s just not okay to see a dog urinating on someone’s grave. I love dogs dearly but it shows respect to steer them around graves instead of over them.

And would you believe that in the not too distant past the city was talking about turning this property into a dog park?! We do love our pooches here in Seattle but that would show total disrespect for these men and women and our past. Open space for dogs to play in is becoming increasingly rare in this region, but cemeteries should always be cemeteries and that should never change.

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These young men knew how to fold a flag and I was thrilled to see their expertise.

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While I recognized these cobblestones as vintage the first time I saw them, this time I learned that they were salvaged from Seattle city streets. The flagpole at the east end of the cemetery (not pictured) came from the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair and was dedicated on May 5th of that year. My tour guide was present at that event.

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The finished product. Thank you Troop 100 and Friends! It was beautiful, and they planned to hold a formal ceremony there on Memorial Day proper.

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The grounds are serene and beautiful. The irises reminded me of a Van Gogh painting.

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Peter Coulton explained the authentic memorabilia in this case, which included a medal of General John A. Logan’s as well as his signature. Logan was a Commander-in-Chief of the G.A.R. who served in Congress and helped found Memorial Day (originally called Decoration Day).

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As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, like many Americans, I have both Union and Confederate ancestors. At the time of this writing, more than a month after the G.A.R. Cemetery cleanup, anti-Confederate fervor is at a high not known in decades after the Charleston church shooting. I hesitate to include these photos because I’m concerned that some historically-ignorant or bigoted person will take it upon themselves to deface this piece of history. It will cost some wonderful staunchly non-racist women at the United Daughters of the Confederacy dearly out of their own pockets if something bad happens. This has already been vandalized in the past, but probably not for anti-Confederate reasons.

There were a number of issues driving the Civil War, namely the role of the federal government, states’ rights, preserving the Union, and economic issues. Ultimately the South believed it should have the right to break away. Slavery was certainly a prominent component of all of these issues, but many people didn’t take up arms to end or defend slavery. They asked why the federal government had the right to force them to be part of a union they felt they should be able to choose to secede from.

Similar questions are being asked in light of Supreme Court rulings this week both by those who agree and disagree with those outcomes– does the federal government have the right to dictate to the states? Or does the Constitution allow the states to make most decisions for themselves? In that context, it’s easier to understand why Southerners took up arms. Of course some were adamant about maintaining the ungodly institution of slavery, but it’s ignorant and offensive to suggest that all Confederates and/or Southerners were racist. My Confederate was multiracial and like many, a grandson of a Revolutionary War veteran. Many Southerners probably saw their cause as very similar to that which created our country in the first place.

Destroying Confederate memorials is only gasoline on the fire. Broad generalizations will only deepen the rifts vandals claim to be fighting against. While I absolutely condemn slavery and repeatedly remind people that the ground is level at the foot of the cross– no man is above another– I also choose to honor my Confederate ancestors and to preserve their history. We can show respect for the people who fought for what their home turf thought was right without agreeing with any erroneous ideologies. The Union and Confederate troops are part of our history and to erase the Confederacy from our memory will come to no good end. We must teach our children the whole story.

After my tour of the G.A.R. Cemetery one of the Friends was kind enough to guide me around Lakeview and show me the graves of Civil War veterans buried there. There is a large memorial to Confederate veterans placed by the UDC in 1926. The UDC came into being as an offshoot of the associations and auxiliaries that formed to take care of the Confederate veterans and perpetuate their memories. They have dedicated themselves to the preservation of many historical documents and places and educate others about our country.

In public school we are not necessarily taught that many Union and Confederate organizations like this came together by the early 20th century and worked together. Congress and certain presidents even asked them to collaborate. They did not ask the Southern organizations to disband, they respected that the various groups existed and asked them to unify on particular projects and causes. Should things be any different in a free country today?

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More “you weren’t taught this in public school”: Robert E. Lee was an accomplished, longtime Army veteran who was offered one of the Union general positions but turned it down. His wife was the great-granddaughter of Martha Custis Washington and so the step-great-granddaughter of our first president. He and his wife inherited slaves and granted most if not all of them their freedom earlier in the war. There was much about the man to admire and the more I read of his writings, the less convinced I am that he was all for slavery. Like many Confederates, he asked, “How can I draw my sword upon Virginia, my native state?”

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These are some of the veterans who are buried near the monument. Like their Union counterparts, many of them went on to successful careers and helped others.

America is finally starting to say thank you for Vietnam veterans for their service even though many of us disagreed with American intervention in Vietnam. We are now wise enough to honor these men and women for their sacrifices independent of their orders. I similarly choose to show respect for Confederate veterans.

Some will be offended by this comparison as these were two very different wars; it’s not the same thing. My point is that we don’t have to agree with the cause to honor the individual. In both cases there were soldiers trying to do what was right and serving to the best of their ability whether they had a say in it or not.

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I don’t know when these markers were created but the font used is beautiful. This veteran, Joseph Pritchett, lived a very long time– until the year World War II ended. He loved his country so much he offered to serve in World War II (his offer was declined as he was in his 90s). He wanted to live to see all the American soldiers come home and his last thoughts were of them. On his 94th birthday he said, “I don’t yield to anyone in my love, devotion and loyalty to America. But if feeling a tender sentiment for the flag of our lost cause makes me an unreconstructed rebel, I guess I am one.”

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James Gilmer lived in Seattle 31 years and is one of many veterans who entered public service after the war. He was active in his church and in veterans affairs. The men who survived the war often lived 50 years or more afterwards; The War Between the States marked them forever but chronologically constituted just a few years of their youth.

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Next to the monument is some intricate stonework belonging to the neighboring plot.

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Farther back in the cemetery I was introduced to Gilbert Meem and his family. Meem was a Brigadier General from Virginia who resigned his commission in 1862, then went on to serve in the Virginia Legislature. After moving to Seattle in 1892 he was appointed postmaster by President Grover Cleveland. Gilbert’s peeking out from behind the tree.

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Sympathies for the North and South still run strong in us Americans 150 years after the end of the conflict. It was hell on earth to have brother fighting against brother, sometimes literally, and the same political disagreements that influenced the Civil War are still very much alive today. I hope that, in memory of all of our people, we can remain united as a nation and true to our Constitution rather than allowing divisive forces to tear us apart. As Lincoln said, alluding to Matthew 12:25, a house divided against itself cannot stand.

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But, nevertheless, the generation that carried on the war has been set apart by its experience. Through our great good fortune, in our youth our hearts were touched with fire. It was given to us to learn at the outset that life is a profound and passionate thing. While we are permitted to scorn nothing but indifference, and do not pretend to undervalue the worldly rewards of ambition, we have seen with our own eyes, beyond and above the gold fields, the snowy heights of honor, and it is for us to bear the report to those who come after us. But, above all, we have learned that whether a man accepts from Fortune her spade, and will look downward and dig, or from Aspiration her axe and cord, and will scale the ice, the one and only success which it is his to command is to bring to his work a mighty heart.

Such hearts–ah me, how many!–were stilled twenty years ago; and to us who remain behind is left this day of memories. Every year–in the full tide of spring, at the height of the symphony of flowers and love and life–there comes a pause, and through the silence we hear the lonely pipe of death. Year after year lovers wandering under the apple trees and through the clover and deep grass are surprised with sudden tears as they see black veiled figures stealing through the morning to a soldier’s grave. Year after year the comrades of the dead follow, with public honor, procession and commemorative flags and funeral march–honor and grief from us who stand almost alone, and have seen the best and noblest of our generation pass away.

But grief is not the end of all. I seem to hear the funeral march become a paean. I see beyond the forest the moving banners of a hidden column. Our dead brothers still live for us, and bid us think of life, not death–of life to which in their youth they lent the passion and joy of the spring. As I listen , the great chorus of life and joy begins again, and amid the awful orchestra of seen and unseen powers and destinies of good and evil our trumpets sound once more a note of daring, hope, and will.

-Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., An address delivered for Memorial Day, May 30, 1884, at Keene, NH, before John Sedgwick Post No. 4, Grand Army of the Republic.

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Lee Corbin provided these additional materials about the G.A.R. Cemetery:

MOHAI program (video)

KIRO podcast (audio)

He also pointed me to the well-researched related databases on Rootsweb (just one is featured here).

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Apologies to those who provided the wonderful detail for this article for not posting it sooner. I appreciate your understanding.

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©2015 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

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