Literacy and Liberty


77 years
Posted by: , October 8, 2018, 3:59 pm
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The memorial that I visited today was the World War II memorial in Old West. I stood for a few minutes and stared at this aging plaque on the wall, allowing my thoughts to roam.

“IN GRATEFUL RECOGNITION OF THE SONS AND DAUGHTERS OF DICKINSON WHO SERVED IN THE ARMED SERVICES OF THE UNITED STATES IN THE SECOND WORLD WAR 1941-1945” it read.

Suddenly, I find myself propelled 77 years in the past. A daughter of Dickinson. I am standing in the same room. The stress of exams fades away. I am not thinking of any paper looming before me. I think of the names of the fallen that I come across daily. I think of the numbness that has begun to come with them. Around the world, people are fighting. An overwhelming amount of them are dying, too. In a few years, the names of my classmates who have lost their lives because of this dreadful, grotesque war will hang on this wall. I will always remember the times that I saw these people on campus. I will remember the laughs of the ones I knew well, recall their accomplishments and feats.

Back in 2018, the personalities of these names are stripped away. All they are now are words on this piece of metal that hundreds of us walk by daily, thinking nothing of it. We so often feel the stress of little things in life, but hardly ever take the time to imagine a time when those names were actually people.

But, I guess this is just simply the point of memorials. There’s more behind the metal, even 77 years later.



Old West Memorial
Posted by: , October 3, 2018, 5:16 pm
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I went to the Old West Memorial Hall, commemorating Dickinson students that died in wars in the United States army. Memorials often seem like a glorification of war to me, which I am starting to think is part of the point. I used to tell people shocking stories of how I was treated when I was a kid, because it was dramatic, and I sometimes turned my sadness into excitement to cope. When I went to the memorial with its beautiful and grandiose metal engravings, and read the names of students that were just like me, who with conviction fought and died in WWII and the civil war, I felt excited, because I am distanced from the horrors of war.

Simultaneously, I feel a great distance from parts of the war memorial, and the United States flag. One of the plaques honored those who served in Iraq, Vietnam, and Korea. These students gave up their lives because they were told that they were fighting for peace. And yet, in Korea Iraq and Vietnam combined, we killed millions of civilians. Where is the plaque honoring them? In the Native Guard, the men were not recognized or buried. I think in both of these situations, the acknowledgement of the non White-Americans is missing.



Ellis Island
Posted by: , October 3, 2018, 4:59 pm
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In fifth grade, I distinctly remember taking a trip to Ellis Island with my class. We had been studying its history and significance. I knew that I had descended from a trio of Russian, Polish and Austrian immigrants. However, I had no idea what they  had to go through during the process of immigration to the States.  Hunger, homesickness and hopelessness were common symptoms felt by many people who would embark off of ships. Many people who were hopeful on staying in the US would also face rejection. This could be determined by “doctors” who examined them after embarking. These doctors could determine whether or not an immigrant could stay by examining them. While on Ellis Island we visited a memorial called The Wall of Honor.  This wall still serves as a way to honor families members who came to Ellis Island as immigrants. I remember feeling terrified, because of the overwhelming names displayed on hard, concrete walls. I heard stories of girls who at the time who were my age and who I admired for what they persevered.  Needless to say, a lot of it went way over my 9 year old head. It wasn’t until years later when my brother was studying our ancestors that I thought about it again. My mom made one of those ancestry.com accounts and she became very engrossed with it. Some information truly surprised her and I. We learned that my fraternal great-grandfather came from Odesa and then moved to England. His mother died soon after coming to the U.S. My great-grandfather believed that his mother died of both a broken heart from homesickness and loneliness. On the bright side, most of my ancestors thrived after arriving to the US by working hard, learning English and assimilating. They successfully made America their home. Drawing from the experience of my family has given me perspective. I am grateful for the life I am living because of they had the courage, strength and vision to flee a bad situation. This helped ensured that their children and future generations would have the freedom their dreamt of.

 



visiting a memorial
Posted by: , October 3, 2018, 4:56 pm
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I visited former home of Lu Xun in Shaoxing, Zhejiang Province during summer. Reading articles of Lu Xun is a literature event that every middle school student has to go through; however, at that age I was so confused about his words and always had a hard time understanding his spirits.

 

Lu Xun is the pioneer who called for an end to old customs and ideas and led new cultural movement in the situation of Chinese society being self-isolated and feudal. After he watched educational film of the Japanese-Russian War, he made his mind to step into the field of literature while realizing his major of medicine could not help Chinese out. He chose to use pens to against guns from then.

During the visit I recalled that his book mentioned on the desk in the old-style private school he went to, he engraved the word “早”, which means “early” in English. However, I noticed his house is in fact quite closed to school, about 50 meters. Someone explained to me that Lu Xun had to take care of his sick father while helping mother dealing with housework, and was always on the run from pawnshop to hospital. Once upon a time he was tardy and scold by teacher, he engraved “early” on his desk to remind himself.

When I returned home I decided to reread those books by him from middle school. I was trying to refresh my memory so badly. Those dusty books, with messy notes on, gave me new understanding of this great man. One quote from him has now become one of my standards: “The brave man would go against strong if he is angry; Only timid man would go against the weak if he is angry”.



US Holocaust Memorial Museum
Posted by: , October 3, 2018, 4:54 pm
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When I was in sixth grade, my ACT class took a field trip to the Holocaust Memorial Museum. It’s a large, gray building and there’s a sobriety in the crowds moving in and out that kept a group of about fifteen 13-year-old kids still and silent. Inside it is noticeably cold and I stayed, throughout the entire visit, hyperaware of the monochromatic concrete surrounding me: the entire museum seems both endless and confining. The first thing that really slammed home what I was looking at was a display of shoes which spanned the length of the room I was in. There were a total of about 11 million people killed during the holocaust, but that’s an almost unimaginable number, and the thousands of shoes laid out in front of me seemed more real than any of the statistics or books– even personal accounts– that we’d studied.

Despite the fact that it was years ago, there is another display at the museum which stands out vividly in my memory. It was much smaller, and walls on all four sides surrounded it. They rose about to my shoulder– I had to stand on my toes to look into the box, and I realize now that such a setup was so that children wouldn’t look in. At the bottom of the box was a video screen; on it played videos of medical experiments and their results, conducted by Dr. Josef Mengele. There was footage of people with extra limbs, physically mutilated and people isolated in rooms so silent or so loud that they were being driven mad, hiding in corners. It went on and on. There was no need to try and imagine those who had suffered or what they had gone through, because it was laid out directly in front of us at every turn. When I walked away I thought I was going to throw up. It was impossible not to see the victims everywhere you looked in the museum-memorial.

That visit was not like any field trip that I had ever been on before– even when we went to the Gettysburg battlefields (which we seemed to do every year) the horrors of what occurred were never truly impressed upon us. I left with a chill in my bones and a metallic ‘Never Forget’ circle pressed into my hand. It was the most effective memorial that I have every visited. Not only did it memorialize the victims, it also educated the viewer so that the events of the past would, hopefully, never be repeated or lost to history.



Memorial Hall
Posted by: , October 3, 2018, 3:59 pm
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We began our journey at Dickinson College in Memorial Hall in Old West. At the time, I did not realize that there was more to that room than simply the place where we literally signed into the college. Last Friday I was helping my sister deliver the newspapers for the Dickinsonian; one of the places she needed to go to drop the papers off at was Old West. We had time to spare, and she knew her way around the building, so with her guidance we went exploring. Memorial Hall is aptly named because it is home to many memorials on campus. Among others, there is a 9/11 memorial and a Vietnam War memorial. They commemorate the tragedies that occurred, but also give representation to the members of the Dickinson community who were a part of them. Even though it was only my sister and I walking around the room and reading the plaques, we still hardly seemed to take a breath out of the desire to keep as quiet as possible in such a solemn space. It was almost a surreal experience to read about how many Dickinson individuals were involved in those events. I can hardly imagine members of my class leaving to take part in military or be found within those tragedies and for them not to return. It would be somewhat odd to recognize the names of classmates, carved into a memorial, forever to be looked at and venerated for their loss. In “Native Guard” by Natasha Tretheway, there is a sonnet which states that the names of the soldiers will be written down in history. The following sonnet contradicts that, saying that only some names will be remembered. Memorial Hall in Old West ensures that the names of the Dickinson students and faculty who were a part of those events are forever remembered.



Benjamin Rush Statue
Posted by: , October 3, 2018, 3:37 pm
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It was the fall of my senior year of high school, and this was to be my last college visit before I made my decision. I arrived on the Dickinson College campus with an open mind, but ready to be finished with the college process. For two years, where I was going to attend college had been discussed time and time again, not to mention the countless tests taken and questionnaires answered. As my mother and I began our tour of the campus after my interview in the admissions building, our first stop was by Old West. In front of the old building was the Benjamin Rush statue. The statue itself is larger than life, with Rush holding a quill in one hand and a piece of parchment in the other, watching over those students as they walk from classroom to classroom. Before even reading the dedication plaque below the statue, I understood how it displayed the intellect and ambition I could tell the College embodied. The Benjamin Rush statue served as a symbol of the culture I knew I could expect in my time here. Today, after having chosen Dickinson as the place I want to spend my next four years; I see the Benjamin Rush statue differently. No longer is it just a symbol of education and intellect, but rather a standard expected of the students who walk the pathways across campus, to uphold the maverick spirit and sense of purpose Rush embodied.



A Simple Token of Gratitude
Posted by: , October 3, 2018, 2:54 pm
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Sometimes the smallest gestures make the make the most impacts. As I strolled through campus, I searched for tall statues, elaborate murals, and designated buildings that were established as war memorials. Eventually, I stumbled into a small plaque erected roughly forty feet adjacent to the Stern Center in a shaded, seating area.

The plaque, which reads “In memory of all those lost in the tragedies of September 11, 2001” lies under a multitude of trees. Even though the plaque projects a simple phrase, its words strike the hearts of Americans who remember the tragic attacks of 2001. As a person who was only two during the event, the plaque still sends chills through me as I reflect on the facts I read about the attacks. The memorial has such a profound effect because its sentiment is straight to the point and powerful. No one has to ponder its meaning because they know of the event and the impact it has on the country.

The memorial described in “Elegy for the Native Guards” honors those who were white-confederate soldiers and not the black soldiers. However, the 9/11 memorial outside of Stern honors every person, no matter race, gender, age, etc., who died from the attacks. Even though the memorial honors the deaths of all victims, many Americans still do not respect and consider the death of Middle-Eastern Americans who were also victims because they are stereotyped as “terrorists”. It is easy to pat ourselves on the back and say we’ve progressed from confederate soldier memorials to current memorials, however, Americans cannot be too flattered because of the consistent disregard for Middle-Eastern citizens who are also victims of terrorist attacks (just like whites and other people of color).



Memorial Hall
Posted by: , October 3, 2018, 2:28 pm
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I was always aware and intrigued by Dickinson’s rich and vibrant history, but after visiting Memorial Hall in Old West I have a new understanding of how Dickinson College helped shape the past that we constantly study. It is a quaint little memorial, but it offers more than meets the eye. As soon as you walk in, there is a huge plaque dedicated to the students of Dickinson College who fought during the Civil War. This is an amazing part of Dickinson history because so many people who went to the same college as I do fought in the most famous American war ever. Some students even lost their lives. What is most compelling about the memorial is the recognition of both the Union and Confederate soldiers. It’s astonishing that students from the same school fought on both sides of the war.

Moving on, located on the other side of the room was a WWII memorial. Once again, I looked the staggering number of young men who served this country during that terrible time in history. A lot of them didn’t make it home. I tried to think about what their lives would have been like at Dickinson during that time period. I tried to think about what the college would have been like. Above all, I thought about how lucky I am that I was born during a time period where our nation is not at war and how safe I am generally. These men helped shape the world we know today by fighting evil, as did the women who contributed to the end of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan by building the necessary tools used to defeat them. They are forever enshrined on this plaque.

There was another plaque dedicated to those who, more recently than the Civil War or WWII, served in Operation Desert Storm. Men and women alike from Dickinson stepped up to serve their country. Being a more recent time where America fought to preserve freedom, I thought about how this related to the other plaques. I thought about the evolution of the campus and its people, and how Dickinson never stopped being part of American history throughout the years.

Visiting this memorial reminded me of how I take my freedom for granted, and how I should be using that freedom as far as it can take me. I am proud to go to the same college as these brave men and women did.



Sons and Daughters of Dickinson
Posted by: , October 3, 2018, 2:23 pm
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Today, I walked to Old West and found my self in the incredibly hot Memorial Hall.  I looked around and, quite frankly, was taken aback by the sparseness of the room at first glance.  I was standing in the middle of the room, sweating, wondering to myself why there were no grandiose statues of war heroes or important figures in history, something that comes to mind for me when I think of memorials.  I live close enough to D.C. that I can take a day trip every once in a while.  Having been there, I was used to seeing the Lincoln Memorial and the new MLK monument.  These memorials are what I think are the epitome of what remembrance should be: big and in your face.  However, as I scanned the room, I looked carefully at the plaques and realized their significance was not to be undermined.  The one I found most intriguing was the plaque memorializing the soldiers from Dickinson who fought in World War II.  “IN GRATEFUL RECOGNITION OF THE SONS AND DAUGHTERS OF DICKINSON WHO SERVED IN THE ARMED SERVICES OF THE UNITES STATES IN THE SECOND WORLD WAR,” it reads, followed by the names of those who served.  This plaque memorializes the people who went to Dickinson and gave their lives for their country.  It was quite profound reading all of the names of the men and women from Dickinson who served.  I realized that a memorials don’t need to be in your face to get their message across. I was concentrated more on the aesthetics rather than the meaning of the memorial itself.  A memorial is about focusing on the memory of something or someone and allows for those looking at and interacting with it to look back on history to better understand the impact of past actions.