A look back at history through clear glasses

17972 miscellaneous nuclear explosion explosionI am a child of the 1950's and 1960's and have also witnessed the challenges of the 1970's, 1980's, 1990's and where we are now in the 21st century. I experienced the Cold War first-hand and remember quite vividly practicing shelter drills in P.S. 213 by taking cover under my desk in case we were attacked with an atomic bomb. Even at that age I questioned the effectiveness of that particular strategy.
As a student in J.H.S. 166, I remember the anxiety of the nation during the Cuban Missile Crisis and the leadership provided by our young president in addressing the threat to our nation. I remember quite vividly, while in Brooklyn College, the feeling of panic when the student deferment was pulled during the height of the Vietnam War as well as the relief I felt when my lottery number was 272.


“America’s Presidents” exhibit reopens at National Portrait Gallery

NPG George Washington PortraitA George Washington portrait is among the many works of art on display in the "America's Presidents" exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery. COURTESY PHOTO  The “America’s Presidents” exhibition at Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery is more than about portraits.

There’s historical context. The Gallery has grouped the portraits into six historical chapters, each with its own explanatory text. Five of these revolve around a particular era, each with one U.S. President anchoring it – George Washington, Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt.


Who is the worst President in our history?

Trump Mocking Disabled ReporterMy vote for absolutely worst president in our country's history, to the surprise of no one who routinely reads this column, is none other than Donald J. Trump.
In a mere six months, this individual has been able to become the single greatest embarrassment this country has ever experienced. His inability to craft a coherent sentence with words beyond a third grade level is the least of our concerns.
Of greater concern, much greater concern, is the fact that the single-minded purpose of Trump is to simply undo all that was set in place by his immediate predecessor and, in so doing, undermine so many of the principles and ideals on which this nation was built.


Remembering the early days of Metrorail

201002 metro19761215Metrorail map from Dec. 15, 1976. COURTESY PHOTO  “What took you so long?”

That was part of my reaction to Metrorail when I started using it regularly in 1977. I grew up on Long Island, and often visited New York City, where I took the subway all around Manhattan and to summer jobs. So with my New York background, it felt funny to be in a major city with no subway when I moved to DC in 1969.

Metrorail opened on March 27, 1976, with just five Red Line stations: Farragut North, Metro Center, Judiciary Square, Union Station and Rhode Island Avenue. Gallery Place opened in December 1976. (NoMaGallaudet did not open until 2004.)

When the Dupont Circle station opened on Jan. 17, 1977, I became a regular Metro commuter. I lived in the Dupont Circle neighborhood, and worked at the D.C. Council as a legislative aide for John A. Wilson, after whom the District’s city hall, the Wilson Building, is named.


How far we’ve come . . .

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Sentinel celebrates 162 years of publication and service to the Montgomery community through a variety of cultural changes

MoCo Sentinel 1st IssueA reprint of the first issue of the Montgomery County Sentinel from Saturday, Aug. 11, 1855. FILE PHOTO  

For 162 years, The Montgomery County Sentinel has provided the residents of the County weekly news coverage from its newsroom in Rockville.

“We are proud to carry on the tradition of independence, and of being a community leader,” said publisher Lynn Kapiloff. “Our commitment to this community has never been stronger.”

The Sentinel remains the only community newspaper still publishing in Montgomery County and has been named the News Organization of the year by the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Press Association three out of the last five years.

Under the leadership of current owner Lynn Kapiloff and her late husband Dr. Bernard Kapiloff, The Sentinel became a beacon for Civil Rights and independence. During the 60s The Sentinel’s reporting on “The Giles case” – often referred to as the “’To Kill a Mockingbird’ case of Montgomery County,” led to freeing African Americans charged and wrongly convicted of rape.

But the paper was founded in different times and once stood for far different interests.

Founded in 1855 by Matthew Fields, like many newspapers of the era, The Sentinel began as a partisan publication in a divisive political environment prior to the Civil War in 1861. Issues such as slavery, tariffs, and state's rights were fiercely debated across the nation.


County considers measure to catalogue local grave yards

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After controversy surrounding the potential development over a historic African-American gravesite, Council members Roger Berliner (D-1), Craig Rice (D-3) and George Leventhal (D-at large) introduced a bill that will require the County to keep a record of all graveyards.

Bill 24-17 would require the County Planning Board to make an inventory of burial sites in the County.

The bill comes after a controversy between the Macedonia Baptist Church, that claim that the site for a new planned residential and commercial development in Westbard, would be on the same site as an historic African-American cemetery.


Heritage Days to celebrate 20 years of bringing history to life

Heritage Days, a project of the non-profit historical organization Heritage Montgomery, will celebrate its 20th anniversary this weekend. Held annually on the last weekend of June, the event is a collaborative effort of organizations throughout the County to provide interactive exhibits showcasing life in different eras.

“Heritage Days is always one of our favorite events,” said Heritage Montgomery executive director Sarah L. Rogers. “It’s grown massively over the years. The first year we only had four participating organizations; this year we have 40.”


Church celebrates 150 year anniversary

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DSC 5355St. Paul United Methodist Church celebrates its 150-year anniversary. PHOTO BY JACQUI SOUTH 

LAYTONSVILLE – The St. Paul United Methodist Church celebrated its 150-year anniversary Oct. 30, welcoming congregants from a variety of backgrounds decades after the formerly segregated church first broke its racial barrier.

Joan Eames, a regular church-goer and former writer for the Gaithersburg Gazette, grew up a Baptist but in the 1970s joined St. Paul UMC.

She has since integrated into the church family. Both her husband and daughter are buried in the church cemetery.


Beall-Dawson House plays host to unique museum experience

ROCKVILLE – The Beall-Dawson Museum is hosting “Cocktails, Lipstick & Jazz”, a new exhibit about feminine fashions at the turn of the 20th century.

Hosted at the historic Beall-Dawson House in Rockville, the museum is unique for being located within a historic landmark.

The house, originally owned by Upton Beall, was passed onto his wife after his death. After his passing, Beall’s wife nor his daughters ever married, and the house was solely owned by women for a period of time; a rare occurrence in the 19th century.

Since then, the Beall-Dawson house has become a site for exhibitions by the Historical Society, recently renamed Montgomery History.


This Silver Spring native has his finger on the history button

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Evan Phifer 1 1Evan Phifer stands by one of the many educational exhibits in the White House Visitor Center he helped research. COURTESY PHOTO  

While attending a recent Washington Nationals' baseball game, Evan Phifer listened contentedly to the people around him trying to guess the answer to the history question posted on the team’s gigantic scoreboard.

After all, the 27-year-old Silver Spring native wrote that question.

As a research historian at the White House Historical Association, Phifer is part of a team providing historic content for researchers, web articles and anyone wondering about this country’s presidents and the White House.

When preparing a question that will be displayed in the fifth inning of each of the 81 Nationals’ home games during the regular season – not to mention additional ones in the playoffs this year –  Phifer is more interested in attracting interest than in stumping the crowd.

“Even if the person gets it wrong, they are still interested,” he said. “I hear people talking amongst themselves what the answer can be,” said Phifer. “It’s educational outreach.”

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