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Letters to the Editor: History Camp

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Posted on: August 15, 2022

Too many battles on Juneteenth

Regarding the Driskell Park history camp fiasco, is it possible that a reasonable person could mistake a group of young boys in period costume for a white supremacist rally? In any event, any misapprehension should have been easily cleared up by simply asking the supervising adults. Where is our charity of interpretation? Where is the apology from the Hyattsville citizens whose mistaken assumption has stigmatized a group of grade schoolers? As for the camp itself, what could possibly be inappropriate about reenacting the Battle of Gettysburg on Juneteenth? That battle was instrumental in winning the Civil War, leading to the end of slavery in America. Without Gettysburg, there might have been no Juneteenth. 

Philip and Caitlin Timmerman are residents of Hyattsville.

Teaching history shouldn’t be a lost cause

I’m not certain how many people bore witness to the now (locally) notorious Civil War battle reenactment in Driskell Park on Juneteenth, but I’m absolutely certain that is not the first time in American history that our collective past has been sanitized and whitewashed.

This battle, the climax of “History Camp,” which as I understand it, is a week-long experience for boys ages eight through fourteen, put together by institutional leaders at St. Jerome’s, missed its stated purpose in a multitude of ignorant and offensive ways. That the camp began on Juneteenth, a day to celebrate the emancipation of slavery, in a public place within our community, Hyattsville, where the vast majority of people who live here are people of color, is horrendous.

The cardinal sin from my perspective is the all too typcial exclusion of slavery from any type of discussion about the Civil War. The Confederacy wasn’t formed because a bunch of southern states experienced a wave of collective “economic anxiety,” it was a treasonous attempt by a cartel made up of politicians, slave owners and rank-and-file racists to form a breakaway apartheid state where slavery would be the law of the land forever. Slavery was written into Article IV of the Confederate States of America’s constitution.

None of this was acknowledged in the apology for how this was publicly taught from St. Jerome’s to the broader community. I hope this camp can learn and grow from these mistakes because history repeats itself.

Dan Broder is a resident of Hyattsville.

The views expressed in these letters belong to their authors. The Hyattsville Life & Times reserves the right to edit letters for brevity and clarity.

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