Saving Syria: Syrian Refugee Project in Germany

Since 2013, Germany has taken in over 700,000 Syrian refugees due to the Syrian Civil War. These refugees are dispersed among Germany’s population of over 82 million people. Although this is still less than 1 percent of Germany’s population, Germany prioritized preserving Syrian culture, while facilitating a smooth assimilation process.

Syria has a rich culture and history that has been endangered due to the Syrian Civil War. Germany wants to make sure that Syrian artifacts and collections are preserved, as many sites have already been destroyed due to ISIS treatment of this particular places. ISIS views Syria’s historical sites as a threat to the Islamic religion – and it sells ancient artifacts to produce revenue. Recently, the city of Aleppo was leveled by ISIS forces and the ancient Roman theatre has become the chosen site for ISIS beheadings.

In order to keep record of Syria’s historical sites, especially those that are at risk, the Museum of Islamic Art in Berlin and the German Archeological Institute reached an agreement with the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs to begin a program that would preserve Syria’s threatened artifacts.

The project aims to weave together present day viewpoints with digital records of Syria, including an online data base which already stores 200,000 photos and documents. Another goal is to build 3D models of the UNESCO sites that were destroyed, so that one day Syria can rebuild these ancient treasures.

Ancient City of Aleppo
Digital interface of the Syrian Archive Project. The collection currently houses over 200,000 items.

As public historians, the Syrian Archive Project raises several questions:

When accepting refugees from war-torn countries how can we preserve their history?

If we are holding these artifacts, who is the true owner? When should the artifacts be repatriated?

How, as public historians, do we handle this situation? What is our role?

Work Cited

“Ancient City of Aleppo”UNESCO. Retrieved 17 August 2011.

The Museum für IslamischeKunst (Museum of Islamic Art) belongs to Staatliche MuseenzuBerlin–Stiftung PreußischerKulturbesitz(State Museums of Berlin–Prussian Cultural Heritage Foudation), http://www.smb.museum/en/museums-institutions/museum-fuer-islamische-kunst/home.html.

THE PUBLIC HISTORIAN, Vol. 40, No. 4, pp. 107–128 (November 2018). ISSN: 0272-3433, electronic ISSN 1533-8576. © 2018 by The Regents of the University of California and the National Council on Public History. All rights reserved. Please direct all requests for permission to photocopy or reproduce article content through the University of California Press’s Reprints and Permissions web page, http://www.ucpress.edu/journals.php?p1⁄4reprints. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1525/tph.2018.40.4.107.

The Curious Case Jim Thorpe’s Remains

 

The brown granite tomb of Jim Thorpe, flanked to the right by a statue of him, on a bright and sunny fall day.
The tomb of Jim Thorpe, flanked by a statue depicting him.

When American Olympic athlete Jim Thorpe passed away in 1953, his remains were sent across the country in an odd series of events directly out of a movie.

When he died in California, Thorpe’s body was sent to Oklahoma for funeral services. It was to be then returned to California with his wife and son for burial. The problem was, Jim was essentially broke at the time of his death, and his wife had no way to transport the body again. The citizens of Shawnee tried to raise the funds for the transport, but couldn’t get them together. Fearing that Jim would be buried in a porter’s grave, she spirited away the remains to, of all places, a town in Pennsylvania he had never been to.

The towns of East and West Mauch Chunk were financially strapped in the 1950s, and looking for a way to diversify the economy of the former mining town. Precilla Thorpe, Jim’s wife, heard about this and made them a deal: Jim’s body and rights to his likeness for an undisclosed amount. The town agreed, and that same year merged and renamed into what is now Jim Thopre, Pennsylvania.

Some sixty years later, Jack Thorpe, Jim’s son, wanted to see his father buried in his homeland in Oklahoma, as did the majority of the Thorpe family. In 2010, he sued the city of Jim Thorpe for his father’s remains, citing the Native American Graves and Repatriation Act as grounds. Ultimately, the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals would rule in favor of the city, citing the town receives no direct state of federal aid that would designate the whole town as a museum, and that Priscilla sold the remains in good faith to the city as Jim’s direct beneficiary and proxy.

As painful as it is not honor a loved one’s wishes, the positive thing to come out of all of this is the fact Jim’s legacy is forever enshrined in a little town in Pennsylvania, and the fight for his remains provided publicity about the greatest athlete you never knew.

You can read more about the legal battle in Supreme Court Ends Fight Over Jim Thorpes Resting Place and Fight for Jim Thorpe’s Remains Continues 62 Years Later, or about the man himself with Encyclopædia Britannica’s Biography

 

World’s Largest Virgin Mary Mosaic

Virgin Mary Mosaic, San Antonio, , Texas

The City of San Antonio is known for many things; The Alamo, The Riverwalk, Fiesta, Six Flags and many more. Of these known titles of the growing city is the World’s largest Virgin Mary Mosaic.  The 15 foot mosaic, located on the Westside of San Antonio,  was dedicated to the Guadalupe Plaza in 2004, by artist Jesse Trevino. This hidden gem of the city is not only beautiful to look at, but it highlights the rich cultural background of the cultural heritage of those who reside on this particular part of the city.

The Yellow Brick House

Yellow facade of the brick house with winter snow.

Originally built in the 1920s by a family out of Grosse Pointe, Michigan this home has had a long series of owners but has always remained a symbol of longevity to the residents of Lighthouse Road in Port Hope, Michigan.

Old back and white photo post card of the house.

Old postcard of the house’s hotel days circa in 1940s. Courtesy of Jane M. Guzman.This three-story home of yellow brick was not always a single-family home and throughout the 1940s and 1950s served as a hotel to families visiting Lake Huron in the summer months, only a block down from the Pointe Aux Barques Lighthouse. The current owners have owned the home since 1993 and have strived to maintain its original architecture.

 

St. Stanislaus Church

 

St. Stanislaus Church's front entrance, taken from the parking lot on a sunny afternoon.
The front entrance to St. Stanislaus Church

Known for being the second oldest Polish parish in the United States, St. Stanislaus Church stands far from the busy main street in Bandera, closer to the original survey location and modern day suburbs. The current limestone structure was built in 1876 by Polish immigrants who first settled the area in the 1850s. Gothic styling dominates the exterior of the church, while the interior is much more conservative, reflecting the parish mission of being focused on Catholic teachings.

 

The church is flanked by several buildings on the surrounding streets, with two old rectories for nuns, now a museum and church office, an adoration chapel (Now the priest’s quarters.), and the now defunct St. Jospeh’s school, which serves as a meeting hall for local christian groups.

 

Vulcan Materials Quarry

Vulcan Materials is a mining quarry focused in San Antonio Texas and is the United States’ largest producer of construction aggregates.  From humble beginnings as a family company in 1909, Vulcan has since become a massive powerhouse of building materials spanning several continents on the globe. The huge increase of available building materials made consistent construction accessible to both the common man and the large company. Vulcan is among the few quarries that receive near perfect safety checks on all machines, programs, and procedures year-round. Another bonus to Vulcan is that this quarry leads the push on more environmentally friendly mining practices while still maximizing gains.

Gyeongbokgung Palace

 

photo of palace
Photos by: Louie Diaz

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gyeongbokgung Palace is situated the middle of Seoul, South Korea.  The original palace was constructed in 1395 under the Joseon Dynasty and served as their main royal palace. The original palace was severely damaged during the Imjin War (1592-1598); however, it was reconstructed during the 19th century. The palace was destroyed once more during the early 20th century while under Japanese occupation. As of 2014, less than half of the buildings have been restored.

 

 

Impacted but Not Broken

Here stands a beam from the South tower of the World Trade Center in the Bush Museum in Dallas, Texas. The beam – which stood strong despite the severe impact – is a metaphor to President Bush’s efforts to create solidarity amongst the American people. On September 11, 2001, America witnessed the worst attack to ever occur on American soil – but for a split second, race, religion, socioeconomic status, and political party did not matter because we are all Americans. America realized that in times of crisis, it must cling tight and not break – just like the beam of impact, twisted and dismantled, yet still strong. 

Beam in museum
Beam of Impact from World Trade Center attack on September 11, 2001 at the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum in Dallas, Texas.

Survivor Tree

photograph of Survivor Tree from the World Trade Center Memorial in NYC
Survivor Tree at World Trade Center Memorial Park in New York City | Courtesy of Tyler Sleeter

Found burnt and damaged in the rubble of the World Trade Centers, Survivor Tree survived the terrorist attacks on 9-11-2001 and later survived Hurricane Sandy.  The tree was removed, nursed back to health, and returned to Trade Center complex as part of the memorial.

Standing near the two memory pools, the tree serves as a symbol of life and strength in the wake of all the death and destruction of that day.   It is a reminder of the strength of all those affected by that day.

141st Infantry Regiment

 

 Historical marker, San Antonio, Texas, 141ST infantry Regiment, Bexar county
141st infantry Regiment historical marker located in San Antonio, Texas

“ To the men who died at the Alamo: All Texans a claim both and song and in the story the days of our youth – the days of your glory may they also remember, wherever they go, the man left behind at some far Alamo”

   The  state  of Texas has a long history of  military affairs.   When it comes to military affairs the 141st infantry Regiment has the title of the oldest militia unit in Texas for the United Stares Army.  The 141st infantry Regiment has a long history of military  involvement by being able to trace its lineage back to the Texas revolution of 1836.  In  addition to the Texas revolution the 141st infantry Regiment can trace its involvement back to the Spanish American war of 1898, the Cuban occupation of 1898, the Mexican border service beginning in 1916, World War I in 1918, and World War II from 1941-1945.  The 141st  infantry division’s  military history continues on now as part of the 72nd Birgade  Combat Division.

This is  historical  marker, dedicated to the 141st infantry division, does not do the history of this military division justice.  This military division has such an extensive history that we can’t fully see the whole picture of the significance of this division  from what is shown on this historical marker.  Much like you may have been, I was also very surprised of the extensive military lineage of the oldest militia unit in Texas.  What stands out most to me is the infantry units motto, “Remember the Alamo.”  What surprised me most about this motto is that it is still said to this day. The history behind this motto is something that is deeply rooted into all Texans.