George Washington House by Garrison Racetrack: Are all Historical Reminders necessary? Time to let wounds heal – Yankee Bajan’s USA Independence, Pt 1

First. let me clearly state no one told me nor my wife until the end of our tour at George Washington House (GWH) that no pictures were allowed, even some of the Marines who went on tour as well did not know either, and some looked at us and silently mouthed “Oops!” since they were guilty of the same faux pas – so I already have the pix and I’m not surrendering them, ‘tek dah‘ (Bajan= take that)!

None of us discovered this revelation ’til we reached the kitchen which was guarded by a woman who was dressed like Betsy Ross, but she was way older, may be still alive from that Bicentennial Revolutionary era – “No, no pictures! Not anywhere through the house! Only outside the building!” There was no such mistakes on board the USS Hawes – but that’s Part 2 of this item…

Now let’s fly forward to the beginning – man, the security to arrive was so tight and thick I was beginning to wonder if the First Couple were attending personally? They were confused as I was neither fish nor fowl in terms of parking – they knew I was a Lottery host (Very well researched, I said nothing, just observing their observations) and thought I was doing a draw, but then I said I would just park there and walk to GWH. But they kept asking if I had a blue or orange disk for parking, eventually one of the guys just said if I was happy parking there (by Horseshoe Studios) then go right ahead.

Let me tell you, the celebration was lavish – with numerous decanters of Cave Shepherd’s ‘100 Not Out‘ rum, enough Samuel Adams lager and ale to float ten battleships, Hilton staff to serve hotdogs and hamburgers, Angus steaks with special sauce, and clam chowder.

Charge D’Affaires Brent Hardt greeted participants and Smokey Burke regaled the audience with both Bajan and American anthems.

Mr Hardt revealed that much of the impetus for the restoration of George Washington House came from then First Lady Hilary Clinton’s visit to Barbados in 1997. He also regaled audience members with a personal message from 44th POTUS Barack H. Obama;-

This weekend, our family will join millions of others in celebrating America. We will enjoy the glow of fireworks, the taste of barbeque, and the company of good friends. As we all celebrate this weekend, let’s also remember the remarkable story that led to this day.

Two hundred and thirty-three years ago, our nation was born when a courageous group of patriots pledged their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor to the proposition that all of us were created equal.

Our country began as a unique experiment in liberty — a bold, evolving quest to achieve a more perfect union. And in every generation, another courageous group of patriots has taken us one step closer to fully realizing the dream our founders enshrined on that great day.

Today, all Americans have a hard-fought birthright to a freedom which enables each of us, no matter our views or background, to help set our nation’s course. America’s greatness has always depended on her citizens embracing that freedom — and fulfilling the duty that comes with it.

As free people, we must each take the challenges and opportunities that face this nation as our own. As long as some Americans still must struggle, none of us can be fully content. And as America comes ever closer to achieving the perfect Union our founders dreamed, that triumph — that pride — belongs to all of us.

So today is a day to reflect on our independence, and the sacrifice of our troops standing in harm’s way to preserve and protect it. It is a day to celebrate all that America is. And today is a time to aspire toward all we can still become.

There was also the presentation of colours by the US Embassy’s Honor Guard. It was magnificent to see how they pivoted around in a short space with such grace and economy of motion.

The house itself is quite small, and even in its heyday, the Clarke plantation was considered a small independent entity. They actually showed one of the original beams in the rafters.

The bed while appearing elegant, I doubt would have given much rest, full of feathers and very lumpy – it was no Slumberpedic nor Serta mattress by any dream! As for the period dress, no wonder folks had heatstroke, all those layers of clothing!

What I felt was not necessary was to remind people of the scourge of slavery, yes it existed – it was made clear in the talk given us by one of the guides. Being this is indeed the George Washington House of Bush Hill, it would have been more accurate to depict field slaves and how they dressed and not the degradation field slaves endured…

They even had a lever for you to heave to see how heavy the thorned manacle was around the neck! Why not, as my spouse remarked, show white indentured laborers or the convicts from the nearby Military Prison as well?

The USA Independence celebration concluded by eight with a brief fireworks display but the after party went on ’til eleven! Palin’s resignation and the death of Michael Jackson dominating most conversations… But who to my wondering eyes did appear but former US Ambassador Mary Ourisman – we all know by now my episode at Las Cibeles last year. What would she say? What would she do? Call Security? Give me a Texas beatdown?

(Also appearing again that night was the teen I saw in November with the Dr Seuss version of a patriotic hat)

Mrs Ourisman saw me by the inside bar yakkin’ to some Marines and Embassy crew, but she made sure to look me straight in the eye and nod, then turned her back to me without a word, LMAO! Swear to God! Suppose it was merciful, but to me it was pricelessly hilarious!

In our next look at American Independence in Barbados, we’ll relay our trip on board a US warship which has a female commander!

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6 Responses

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  1. Interesting post and I am glad you enjoyed the museum tour. May I just say this though:

    When museums showcase the horrors of the Nazi Holocaust, no one ever questions why they do this, and no one accuses Jewish people of ?living in the past.? There are also entire museums in Germany, France and Europe which showcase the horrors that Europeans went through during, for example, the Spanish Inquistion and the French Revolution, complete with the actual antique guillotines and the implements of torture that were used during those awful periods ? but no one ever accuses Europeans of ?living in the past.?
    But whenever anything dealing with the history of persons of African descent is showcased, and in particular transatlantic slavery, there are always accusations hurled of living in the past and "it's time to let old wounds heal." It just doesn't make sense.
    Furthermore, your point that the Museum should also showcase the suffering of white convicts and indentured servants is problematic. They SHOULD indeed showcase these as well if they so desire. However, you are not suggesting that they do so because you genuinely believe it would provide a balanced view of our history during this time. You are instead using a tactic that many people use in an attempt to ?play down? the horrors that African people went through during slavery on these shores. By showing the sufferings of white people and other groups during this period, you can then point your finger at black people and say: ?See! You all (Black people) can shut up now and stop harping on about the past. Look! White people suffered too ? you all aren?t the only ones who suffered, so what are you all STILL complaining about?!?
    The fact remains that you are comparing apples with oranges. Yes, indentured servants suffered HORRIBLY during the slave trade. They were treated almost like chattel. But almost like chattel is NOT chattel. Unlike indentured servants, African slaves WERE considered chattel, and museums like this serve to remind us of the evil and inhumanity of this. Nor is a convict the same thing as a slave. Unlike a convict, a slave did nothing wrong. The sufferings are linked, but they are still separate and you do a terrible disservice to persons of African descent by suggesting that our history should be distorted in this manner. Imagine the outrage if persons of Jewish descent who had suffered in death camps during WWII were told that they should distort their history in this manner.
    Understanding what happened in the past is not the same thing as ?living in the past? or opening ?old wounds?. It is a way to learn from the past and move forward. There is much good, but also much evil, to be learnt from our pasts if we are to make a better today and tomorrow. While slavery is by no means the ?be-all and end-all? of the history of African people, it nevertheless does play an extremely significant part that needs to be better understood. Thanks for reading.

  2. I knew this would draw intrigue… Which is why I was very careful to show picture of my wife, I am aware ppl view me as "white" and that is why I listed HER comments – which, Nia – is what you are reacting to…

    But in fact, if you asked my views on the Holocaust as compared to slavery of Africans – they're identical… It happened, so let's move on – otherwise the current generation of Germans pay for a generation of Israelis who barely understand what – "Colditz," "Auschwitz" or "Stalag 17" or even the classic graphic novel of "Maus" by Art Spielermann – is all about…

    Do you really think young Brits or Americans know why old folk observe Cenotaphs in November six decades after the fact? For the most part, not really, I doubt!

    Yes, it happened and yes it was horrible, all of it, but if you keep picking the scab when does the wound generate new flesh?

    So let me add – be it Crusades, WW1, Belgium annexation of Congo, WW2, War of Roses, KwaZulu, Serb-Croat, Vietnam or whoever, wherever – if we all want Peace? Then we need to just learn from the mistakes and MOVE ON!

  3. No, no. I am WELL aware of who you and your wife are. I remember you from when you used to read the CBC news and I have been seeing you on television and in person for years. I personally have NEVER regarded you as white, but it is not at all my place to define you. Only you have the right to define yourself.
    There are MANY Black people who carry the views that your wife espoused. I was not under the slightest impression that this was a white person talking. It doesn't make a difference who was saying it, but rather what was being said.
    I am still confused as to how you would think that showing a genuine part of history in a museum can prevent someone from moving on? Are you saying that all museums and any reference to any painful part of ANY group's history should be erased from museums, books, films, etc? People are not foolish. Most people can have these discussions and see these historical reminders and keep them in their place and in their context. I have no problem doing so. It would only make people uncomfortable and feel that they are "picking at a scab" if they do not really understand it, or if they are attempting to distort it – which is what still being done to so much of our history. I think part of the problem is that African history tends to be told in a vaccum. Perhaps if we placed as much emphasis on our history BEFORE slavery and not just during slavery, these issues would not make some people so uncomfortable.

  4. Now that I can agree with, show the past – where the first Universities were formed, who really invented AstroNOMY *and* AstrOLOGY among other projects to help black people regain their dignity which was never lost, only misplaced!

  5. Absolutely, I couldn't agree more!

  6. POOR BOY:

    Re this 'slavery thing' – while Obama is constantly saying "I'm not interested in talking about the past, I'm here to talk about the future" – Bajans repudiate that view and want to remain forever buried in the rubble of "slavery." Even in the Nation today there is a headline: LIAT accused of slavery.

    All you people who are still living on the earth when it was flat, need to be removed into a section where you can continue to wallow in self-pity and look around to see who/what next you can find to blame for your sorry ass condition….


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