Archive for the ‘museum’ Category

“Most Famous” Lincoln Letter of Civil War Found?

November 17, 2008

A Texas museum hopes a document found in its archives turns out to be an authentic government copy of Abraham Lincoln‘s eloquent letter consoling a mother thought to have lost five sons in the Civil War.

The famed Bixby Letter, which the Dallas Historical Society is getting appraised as it prays for a potential windfall, has a fascinating history.

By JEFF CARLTON, Associated Press Writer

The original has never been found. Historians debate whether Lincoln wrote it. Its recipient, Lydia Bixby, was no fan of the president. And not all her sons died in the war.

The letter, written with “the best of intentions” 144 years ago next week, is “considered one of the finest pieces of American presidential prose,” said Alan Olson, curator for the Dallas group. “It’s still a great piece of writing, regardless of the truth in the back story.”

Historians say Lincoln wrote the letter at the request of a Massachusetts official, who passed along news of a Boston woman grieving the loss of her five sons. The letter is addressed to “Mrs. Bixby, Boston, Mass.” and begins with an acknowledgment that nothing written could possibly make a grief-stricken mother feel better about such a horrific loss.”I feel how weak and fruitless must be any word of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming,” Lincoln wrote.

After thanking Bixby on behalf of a grateful nation, Lincoln wrote that he would pray that God relieve her anguish and leave her with only the “cherished memory of the loved” along with “the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom.”

The letter, as was the president’s custom in his personal correspondence, is signed “A Lincoln.”

“It is so beautifully written,” said James Cornelius, curator of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Ill. “It is an extraordinarily sensitive expression of condolence.”

There was renewed interest in the letter after it was read in the 1998 film “Saving Private Ryan.” It also sparked a new round of debate centering on Lincoln’s authorship and the fate of Bixby’s sons.

Evidence indicates two of Bixby’s sons died, a third was a deserter and a fourth ended up in a prisoner-of-war camp, Cornelius said. A fifth is believed to have received a discharge, but his fate is unknown.

Historians have also argued that John Hay, one of Lincoln’s secretaries, wrote the letter. Hay was an accomplished writer who wrote a biography of Lincoln and later became ambassador to the United Kingdom.

“Lincoln probably wrote it,” Cornelius said. “Hay did on some occasions write letters in Lincoln’s name and sign them — or have Lincoln sign them — but probably not something like this that purports to be so personal and individual and heartfelt.”

The letter received widespread attention days after it was written. Bixby either sent it to the Boston Evening Transcript or a postal worker intercepted it and tipped off the newspaper, which reprinted the letter, Cornelius said.

The touching note came about two months after Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman had broken through Atlanta on his march to the coast and about two weeks after Lincoln won re-election. Union spirits were high, Cornelius said.

“The letter was so popular that it was published in newspapers and people copied and sent it to relatives,” Olson said. “That letter and the words in it affected the nation. It tugged at people’s hearts at the time of a really bloody period in America.”

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081117/ap_on_re_us/lincoln_
letter;_ylt=ApB_WT7xHW7RTpr93Vz97SSs0NUE

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Abraham Lincoln seated, Feb 9, 1864.jpg

Text of the Bixby letter:
Executive Mansion,
Washington, Nov. 21, 1864.

Dear Madam,–

I have been shown in the files of the War Department a statement of the Adjutant General of Massachusetts that you are the mother of five sons who have died gloriously on the field of battle.

I feel how weak and fruitless must be any word of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming. But I cannot refrain from tendering you the consolation that may be found in the thanks of the Republic they died to save.

I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom.

Yours, very sincerely and respectfully,

A. Lincoln

(file image)
AP
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Museum to showcase China’s forced labour camps

November 9, 2008

After languishing 19 years in China‘s forced labour camps, a Chinese dissident has set up a museum in Washington to highlight the “horrors and atrocities” in these secret detention facilities.

Harry Wu, who labored in 12 different camps in China from 1960 to 1979, set up the museum in memory of the millions who he said perished within the camps, known as “Laogai” or reform-through-labor camps.

by P. Parameswaran, AFP

Wu hopes it “will preserve the memory of the Laogai’s many victims, including the millions who perished within the labor camps, and serve to educate the public about the horrors and atrocities committed by China’s communist regime,” a statement from his Laogai Research Foundation said.

A 1995 photo shows US human rights activist Harry Wu (C), standing ...
A 1995 photo shows US human rights activist Harry Wu (C), standing between two Chinese policeman taken from a video offered for sale to foreign news agencies. After languishing 19 years in China’s forced labour camps, a Chinese dissident has set up a museum in Washington to highlight the “horrors and atrocities” in these secret detention facilities.(AFP/File)

“To this end, the museum will not only introduce the history and structure of the Laogai, but will also tell the personal stories of many of its prisoners,” it said.

Materials on display at the museum, to open to the public Thursday, include photographs, government documents and prisoner uniforms from Wu’s own archives or donated by other Laogai survivors.

Wu set up his foundation in 1992, seven years after he fled to the United States where he obtained American citizenship.

The Laogai camps were establishd under China’s former leader Mao Zedong after the communists came to power in China in 1949. They included both common criminals and political prisoners.

About 40-50 million people have been imprisoned in the Laogai, many of them prisoners of conscience, Wu’s group said.

In 1990, China abandoned the term Laogai and labelled the detention facilities as “prisons” instead but Wu maintained that evidence gathered by his foundation suggested that forced labor was “as much a part of its prison system today as it ever was.”

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20081109/pl_afp/
uschinalaborrights_081109014110

Icon Of World War II To Present Refurbished, Returns to Historic Mission

November 8, 2008

The aircraft carrier USS Intrepid is an icon hero of World War II.  She suffered five attacks by suicide pilots —   — and over 200 sailors were killed on her decks.

Intrepid participated in the Pacific Theater of Operations of World War II, most notably the Battle of Leyte Gulf. Later she recovered spacecraft of the Mercury and Gemini programs and served in the Vietnam War. Since 1982, Intrepid has been part of the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum in New York City. Because of her prominent role in battle, she was nicknamed “the Fighting I.”

Read about USS Intrepid on Wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Intrepid_(CV-11)


Above: USS Intrepid in the World War II time frame

Intrepid Returns to New York WaterfrontFrom Fox News, NY

 

The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum is reopening to the public with a two-day celebration.

A Saturday ribbon cutting aboard the World War II aircraft carrier will be followed by musical performances and fireworks.  Members of the Fire Department, the Police Department and the military also will gather for a game of tug-of-war.

The museum on the Hudson River underwent a 22-month, $120 million restoration at a New Jersey drydock. It returned home last month.

After WWII, the ship saw service in the Korean and Vietnam wars and was twice a recovery ship for NASA astronauts. Since 1982 it has become one of the city’s most popular tourist sites, drawing some 750,000 visitors yearly over the past decade.
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USS Intrepid’s Reopening, New Dedication Features Honors, Praises, HistoryBy Bill Blayer, Newsday

 

After a two-year, $120-million restoration project for ship and pier, the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum reopens to the public Saturday with a day of special events.

The official grand reopening event will be held Tuesday on Veterans Day, when President George W. Bush is scheduled to be onboard to be honored by the museum.

After extensive work at a Bayonne drydock and a Staten Island pier, the historic aircraft carrier berthed at Pier 86 at West 46th Street and 12th Avenue offers new exhibits including areas of the ship never before accessible, four new aircraft and the rest of the planes repainted, a new public park-like pier and new handicapped accessibility. It also will charging higher admission fees: $3 more for adults to $19.50.

The first visitors begin touring the new displays and renovated ... 
The first visitors begin touring the new displays and renovated aircraft in the hangar bay on board the USS Intrepid, Saturday, Nov. 8, 2008, in New York. The ship reopened to the public today after a two year renovation. (AP Photo/Edouard H.R. Gluck)

On Saturday, the museum will open at 10 a.m. At 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m., the Chaminade High School band will perform; at 1 there will be a tug-of-war between the FDNY, NYPD, Navy and Marine Corps; at 5:30 there will be a performance by the USO and Liberty Belles; at 6 a performance by Annapolis Men’s Glee Club and Barbershop Quartet; and fireworks at 7 p.m. Sunday hours are 10 to 6.

On Tuesday, the ship commissioned in 1943 will be closed to the public until 2 p.m. while the president attends Veterans Day ceremonies and is presented with the 2008 Intrepid Freedom Award. The award recognizes world leaders who embody the ideals of world freedom and democracy. Prior honorees include presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, prime ministers Yitzhak Rabin, Margaret Thatcher and Silvio Berlusconi, and Russian President Boris Yeltsin.

“This is only the second time a sitting president has visited us,” museum president Bill White said.

Gov. David A. Paterson also is scheduled to attend along with 2,500 veterans.

The museum expects 1 million visitors in the next year to see the new exhibits aboard the 29,000-ton ship, including the newly opened fo’c’sle area where the anchor chains are stored in the bow, officers’ quarters and crew’s mess.

Ben Kalsman, 5, reaches skyward, as he sits on the shoulders ... 
Ben Kalsman, 5, reaches skyward, as he sits on the shoulders of his Father, Arden, waiting to board the USS Intrepid, Saturday, Nov. 8, 2008, in New York. The ship reopened to the public today, after a two year renovation. (AP Photo/Edouard H.R. Gluck)

Celebrating Flight and Aircraft In the Temple of the Wild Blue Yonder

November 1, 2008

THE first thing visitors encounter in the main display area of the Udvar-Hazy Center, the National Air and Space Museum annex near Dulles airport in the Virginia countryside, is a huge black spy plane.

By Henry Fountain
The New York Times
.
It’s an SR-71A Blackbird, the ultimate hot-rod aircraft, one of about 30 built at the Lockheed Skunk Works in California in the 1960s. This one last flew in 1990, traveling the 2,300 miles between Los Angeles and Washington in 1 hour 4 minutes 20 seconds — a transcontinental blur.

But now it’s at a standstill, giving visitors the chance to appreciate its outrageousness. There are the two massive engines on short, stubby wings; the tiny cockpit where the two-man crew was shoehorned in wearing bulky pressure suits; and the sweeping titanium fuselage that was built so loosely, to allow for expansion in the heat of supersonic flight, that the fuel tanks that made up the bulk of the plane routinely leaked, losing as much as 600 pounds of fuel taxiing to the runway.

 
Planes, including a Boeing 307, above, are ready for inspection.  Photo by Andrew Councill for The New York Times

The Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Va., is about air and space, yes, but as the Blackbird shows, it’s also about frozen time. More than 150 aircraft and spacecraft that in their day were among the swiftest or slowest, most graceful or ungainly, most useful or useless, sit on the floor and hang among the catwalks of this giant hangar of a museum as if plucked from the sky.

For Washington visitors whose encounters with the Air and Space Museum have been limited to the original 1976 building some 30 miles away on the National Mall, the Udvar-Hazy Center, which opened in 2003 and is named for a major donor, an aviation industry executive, can be quite a different experience. There are fewer “name” aircraft like the Spirit of St. Louis to gawk at, no moon rocks to touch, and while as in the Mall building there can be hordes of schoolchildren, their noise tends to dissipate in the cavernous arched structure. Over all, with more than twice the exhibition space and about one-fifth the visitors, the Virginia museum has a quieter, more worshipful feel.

Read the rest:
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/31/travel/escapes/31air.html

Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird.jpg