Archive for the ‘History’ Tag

Recalling Jonathan Myrick Daniels

me at courthouse

I’m standing (or, more accurately, hovering) in front of the Lowndes County Courthouse in Hayneville, Alabama.  Hayneville is like many of the towns in the Black Belt of Alabama (so called because it’s one of the few regions in the state where the soil is black earth instead of red clay):  small, sleepy, economically challenged if not outright dying.  Once a year, though, visitors descend on Hayneville — not for a festival in the sense most people think, but to remember a life of dedication to service and faith, to courage, and to the beginning (pray God) of an end.  Yearly, around August 14, the Episcopal Diocese of Alabama holds a pilgrimage dedicated to the life and death of a man not from their region, but who shook up the region in ways nobody could foresee at the time.

Daniels as a VMI cadet.

Daniels as a VMI cadet.

Jonathan Myrick Daniels was a New Hampshire man, the son of a doctor.  Born in 1939, he applied himself well enough to enter Virginia Military Institute, from which he graduated in 1961 as the class valedictorian.  He was awarded a valuable scholarship, and entered Harvard University to major in English.

Jonathan Daniels at seminary

Plans can change, though.  Daniels had been brought up a Congregationalist, but questioned his faith while at VMI.  However, in 1962, while attending an Easter service in Boston, he felt a renewed calling, and chose to change career paths.  He enrolled in the Episcopal Theological School in Cambridge in 1963.

Daniels in Alabama

Things changed again in 1965.  As many of us may recall who were alive then, 1965 was a turbulent time, to put it mildly.  American involvement in the Vietnam war was increasing; more importantly to this story, the civil rights movement was meeting with huge resistance from the southern states it was at work in.  Hearing Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s call for more white clergy to get involved in the black voter-registration work going on, Daniels, now a seminarian, looked deep into himself, doubted his feelings for a time, but ultimately answered the call when he felt sure that God was asking him to help.  He set off for Selma in the summer, and the work he entered into ultimately led him to the town of Ft. Deposit.


The building which housed the store in front of which Daniels was killed. The owner of the building had it torn down, along with the apron where Daniels died, in 2014.

Daniels was arrested on August 14, along with other protesters involved in picketing “whites-only” stores in Fort Deposit.  They were transported to Hayneville and held in the jail there; some were released early, but several others, including Daniels, refused to go unless all were given the opportunity to make bail.  After being held in an steamy jail for six days, the group was finally released without explanation on August 20; none of them had paid or been offered bail.  No transportation was supplied for them to return to Fort Deposit; while one of the group went to telephone to the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee for a ride back, Daniels, Father Richard Morrisroe (a Catholic priest) and two African American students walked to a store which was willing to sell to blacks, to get some cold drinks.  Outside of the store, Thomas Coleman, a former deputy sheriff, barred the way with a shotgun, and aimed it at Ruby Sales, one of the students.  Daniels reacted on instinct and pushed Sales out of the line of fire; in doing so, he took the shot himself, and died on the store’s concrete apron.  Father Morrisroe, attempting to escape with student Joyce Bailey, took a second shot, but survived his wounds and is alive today.  Coleman was charged with manslaughter, but claimed self-defense, saying that he had been threatened with a knife and a gun.  He was acquitted by an all-white jury, which the Attorney General of Alabama (!) deplored as “[an example of the] democratic process going down the drain of irrationality, bigotry and improper law enforcement.”


Daniels Pilgrimage

It took the death of a courageous man to break through some mindsets, but it was effective.  Much of the Episcopal Church began re-evaluating positions following the murder, which was characterized by Martin Luther King as “one of the most heroic Christian deeds of which I have heard in my entire ministry….”  Daniels was eventually proclaimed a martyr of the church, and his name added to the calendar of Lesser Feasts.  August 14 is the day set aside for remembrance of him, and an annual pilgrimage of the Episcopal Diocese of Alabama walks the courthouse square of Hayneville each year on or near that date to commemorate him and remember his death, as well as others who died in Alabama working for civil rights.

O God of justice and compassion, who put down the proud and the mighty from their place, and lift up the poor and afflicted: We give you thanks for your faithful witness Jonathan Myrick Daniels, who, in the midst of injustice and  violence, risked and gave his life for another; and we pray that we, following his example, may make no peace with oppression; through Jesus Christ the just one: who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

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“John, we hardly knew ye….”

Kennedy motorcade

My generation is the last who have any possibility of holding that day in conscious living memory.

More on that day and the man, after the break.

Posted November 21, 2013 by Harper Ganesvoort in History, Real Life

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In Memory of Broken Glass

Kristallnacht blog

I missed this by a few days, but better late than never; and, while we’re remembering our veterans today, both alive and dead, it’s appropriate that we remember others as well, who died for no reason other than the desires of a madman. I will tell you right now that this isn’t a light article, a happy fashion piece or a visit to some beautiful vista, and I pull no punches in my subject or my choice of language. If you find this a hard thing, my sorrow for you, and you should move on to another blog for now. But an evil this great must be remembered; must be kept alive in the history of the world, so that we may see the signs and take steps to stop it before it grabs hold of us again.

Read more after the break.

The Night the Martians Invaded New Jersey

A monument erected in Grover's Mill, N. J. to the Mercury Theatre broadcast of October 30, 1938.  Background image in the public domain.

A monument erected in Grover’s Mill, N. J. to the Mercury Theatre broadcast of October 30, 1938. Background image in the public domain.

Today marks a historic anniversary.  It was 75 years ago, on October 30, 1938, that the planet Earth was invaded by troops from the planet Mars, who defeated the entire New Jersey militia, as well as inflicting large numbers of state police and civilian casualties, from their landing point in the Jersey hamlet of Grover’s Mill.  They went on to cut a swath of destruction (long since healed) all the way to the city of Princeton.  It was at about that point that the invaders themselves succumbed to superinfection from terrestrial bacteria, thus sparing the planet from further destruction.

The events in question transpired this way–

(Knock comes at front door) “Oh, excuse me….  Mmhmm?…  What??…  But–…  But–!…”  (Sigh)  “Oh, all right….”)

Well, actually, the planet wasn’t invaded.  But a whole lot of people thought it was; and that was the beauty — and the scary power — of the thing….

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted October 30, 2013 by Harper Ganesvoort in Arts, History, Radiio

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Ten Years of Second Life


Ten years ago today, a company called Linden Research in San Francisco, also known as Linden Labs, opened up to the public a virtual-reality simulation service they called Second Life (SL Wiki, Around the Grid).  It was based on their earlier prototype platform known as Linden World, released in 2002, but 6/23/2003 is considered the official 10th birthday of Second Life.  And in that ten years, where has the Grid gone?

See my discussion (admittedly from a personal basis) after the break.

Posted June 23, 2013 by Harper Ganesvoort in History

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The Sistine Chapel in Second Life

Believe it or not, this isn’t Real Life in the photo above.  I shot this photo this morning in the reproduction of the Sistine Chapel at Vassar Island; and you can see the quality of the builder’s work here for the most part in “pasting” the image textures onto the prims.  Only the joint lines between the vault of the ceiling and the pointed arches over the windows show traces of artifact.  The builder put this together from a series of photographs to reduce the distortion found in many photos of this semicircular work of art.  You can see where inexperience and the physical limitations of 2006 in Second Life show up in the lack of joins between the ceiling and the walls — but the eye is drawn away from the physicality of material to the glory of the art created via papal command by Michelangelo Buonarroti.

According to The Writer’s Almanac, All Saints’ Day (November 1), this day in 1512, was the day on which Pope Julius II allowed people beyond himself, the artist Michelangelo (and probably the pope’s immediate circle) to see the frescoes on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel for the first time.  Avatars who complain about the difficulty of building or creating anything in Second Life should read the history of what Michelangelo had to go through to execute the commission for this huge set of frescoes.  This, obviously, was not a single day’s work — we’re talking the Sixteenth Century, after all — but it took much more than a few days, as well.  It took four years for him to finish the frescoes, between 1508-1512, and part of the effort (according to Wikipedia) was due to his own fault in negotiating for a far grander scheme than Julius was planning on.  He complained bitterly that he was a sculptor, not a painter, and actually tried to bug out from the work when the “warrior pope” was diverted by a conflict with France.  Once the fighting was over, Julius told Michelangelo to get to Rome and start up, and the artist had no choice but to begin. Read the rest of this entry »

Historical SL Map Exhibit At New Kadath Art Gallery

Many of you know this map — of the two primary Mainland continents, Sansara and Heterocera.

And you’re usually familiar with this physical map as well.  (I recall this before Zindra was a part of the grid.)

But only real old-timers, about as old as Second Life, will remember this map:

This was the first physical map of Second Life, back when it was far easier to put together a map at all — only 16 regions.  I have no proof that Da Boom is the first region, the one where Philip laid down his mighty Hand and said (WHAP!!!!)

Okay, I’ve been informed that I’m getting a little messianic here.  Anyway, this is what it looked like way back when.  And this map is just one in a substantial display of maps of the Grid, put up for display in a temporary exhibit of Grid cartography.  I caught a plurk from Second Life headquarters, so to speak, mentioning this exhibit; it’s being held at the New Kadath Lighthouse Art Gallery, and is curated by Juliana Lethdetter from her personal collection.

The exhibit includes more historical maps, a very brief recital of the legend of Magellan Linden, the man responsible for the discovery of the Grid (it is said), and selections of maps from various groups scattered about Second Life.  Very instructional, a fascinating tour (I didn’t know a thing about the Second Life Coast Guard, for instance), and well worth the visit.

In the beginning….

In the beginning Philip created the Grid.  And the Grid was without form, and digitally void; and darkness was upon the face of the screen. And the Code of Philip moved upon the chips of the memory.

And Philip said, llRezObject(“Object1”, llGetPos() + < 0, 0, 2 >, ZERO_VECTOR, ZERO_ROTATION, 42); and there were boxes.  And Philip saw the boxes, that they were good; and Philip divided the boxes from the darkness.  And Philip called the boxes Cubes, and the darkness he called Not Cubes.

And the evening and the morning were the first day.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted April 13, 2012 by Harper Ganesvoort in History, Humor

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RMS Titanic — 1912-2012

It was on this day in 1912 that the Royal Mail Steamer Titanic of the White Star Line set sail from her berth in Southampton, ultimately sailing into history and legend as the worst passenger-liner disaster in the world.  Fascination with the ship and its passengers and crew continues even after a century of time has passed.

Posted April 10, 2012 by Harper Ganesvoort in Arts, History, Real Life

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“A date which will live in infamy….”

“Yesterday, December 7th, 1941 – a date which will live in infamy – the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan….”— President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, December 8, 1941, speaking to a joint session of Congress.

The world changed — massively — for Americans on that December day.  While most of us were going about our Sunday routines — perhaps sitting in church for the day’s sermon or Sunday school, or getting out for brunch with friends — a squadron of Japanese aircraft carriers were turning into the wind and launching attack bombers.  Japan was stymied in its plans for expansion of its “Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere” by an American embargo on oil, machine parts and other needed goods, and afraid that the U. S. would respond if it attacked British interests in Southeast Asia, and planned a preventive strike against the American Pacific Fleet in Hawaii to forestall any action against it.  The Japanese had planned to shave its “notification” to the U. S. government of hostile intent as closely as possible to keep a warning from being sent to the American bases in and around Pearl Harbor; but clerical problems in decoding and typing the message eliminated any validity to their weak attempt to observe the niceties.

The Navy, which had been able to break the top Japanese diplomatic code, had a rough inkling that something was going to happen, and a copy of the Japanese response had been decoded and distributed to top American officials; however, nothing explicitly stating that the Japanese would attack Pearl Harbor was ever sent or decoded by us.  If it had been, Pearl would have been notified, and the outcome of the battle would surely have been much different.

And so some 350 Japanese planes attacked the sleeping base early on Sunday morning, Honolulu time, in two waves.  Four out of the eight battleships at anchor, including the USS Arizona, were sunk, three more were damaged, and the last ran aground as it tried to make out of port into open water.  We also lost three other ships and nearly 200 planes; over 2,000 people were killed.  In this, the Japanese were successful; but no American aircraft carriers were in port, and so one of the planners’ main goals failed. The next day, President Roosevelt opened his speech to Congress with the words above, and they voted overwhelmingly to declare war on Japan.  Only one no vote was recorded, by Jeanette Rankin, who had also voted no to declaring war on Germany in 1917.

Pearl Harbor was cleared of all wreckage, except for the Arizona, which was so badly damaged from the explosion of her forward magazine that she was considered unsalvageable, and the Utah.  The Arizona was ultimately decommissioned 1, and a memorial to her dead and all the dead of the Battle of Pearl Harbor built across her sunken hull in the 1950s.  A replica of this memorial exists today in Second Life, in Oahu region.  I asked my friend, Conan Bankersbox, if he would pose there for me, and he happily obliged, first dressing in Navy casual whites as an ensign in tribute to the men who died that day, 70 years ago now.  Their comrades who survived, and all the others who came through the crucible of that war and helped keep our country free, are now very old men and women, and dying as the years progress.  I hope you will join me in honoring their sacrifice, their heroism and their dedication in Real Life today.  In addition, there will be a ceremony of remembrance at the Arizona Memorial replica today at 2:00 p.m. SLT, with music, remembrance of those lost, and the chance to throw a lei into the harbor water in tribute.

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