Sunday, September 07, 2014

Busy back at work so haven't followed up on my report on the trip to Atlanta and Tuskegee ... .

Photo taken at Tuskegee Airfield after Women's Equality Day Address
... but I was trying to wait for my colleague to provide her photos so that I could share them, but she is also back at her desk and hasn't gotten around to making the CD yet.  I brought along my camera but, unfortunately, I simply forget to take photos even when it's right there in my hand.  I guess I just don't want anything to stand between me and an experience.  We'll just have to wait for Sue's pics.

It occurred to me that the one thing I haven't yet reported on is the event that brought us to Tuskegee in the first place, the address for Women's Equality Day at the Airfield.  The truth is that I was so deeply moved by all that surrounded it, that I'm not sure that I could tell you what I said in that speech.  It faded into the background as the other experiences took over every cell in my body.

Moten Airfield is a scant 4 miles from the university campus, and is also a National Park System site, one that has been faithfully restored with impressive exhibits, both of the ghost buildings and those that could be restored. Those no longer standing are represented by skeletal metal footprints in the exact measurements of those now missing.  I've never seen that done before, and it does the job quite well.

In addition, the hangars have been restored and are rich with blow-ups of the Airmen, including everyone who served in any capacity (pilots, mechanics, instructors, etc.) now being considered "Tuskegee Airmen."   This was no surprise since our park considers anyone working on the Home
Front in any capacity as a "Rosie."  I was told that one woman who is seen in one of the giant photos huddling under the wing of a plane with pilots -- a mechanic -- is still living in the area but was too frail to attend the event.

The audience was made up of NPS staff, volunteers, and at least two elected officials, one who with his spouse, had driven all the way from Mobile (a 3-hour drive) to attend.

We visited the historic hangars, followed by a sumptuous lunch in the Sky Club where young  officers had gathered for recreation -- with a jukebox of the times playing music of that era.  We would then take off for the drive along the historic Selma to Montgomery Trail and Pettus Bridge where another stunning NPS visitor center has been established in a rehabilitated bank building.  What had escaped notice by virtue of the tragic and dramatic events of Bloody Sunday was the serene beauty of the Alabama river that meanders lazily below in silent testimony to those long ago horrific scenes.  The nation responded with shock and shame, and those images on our television sets changed the fate of what had been a seemingly failed social revolution up to that point.

The town of Selma appears to have changed little over the years; and could be well-used as a movie set of that painful era.  One would hope that the same would not be said of those still living there.

... and I just noticed that the report on my talk has gotten itself buried again.  Maybe I'll just have to let it all simmer until it's ready.  Maybe by the time Sue gets back to work from her backpacking trip at Yosemite and can transfer the photos from her camera to a CD.  Maybe then I can recapture the part  that I played in last week's journey ... maybe.  But when put in context, my contribution was probably the least important aspect of a memorable trip back in time.