Saturday, August 8, 2009

Back in the U.S.A.

Springfield, Massachusetts has more history in it than one might expect. It's the home of the Basketball Hall of Fame because Naismith invented the sport there while teaching at Springfield College (then the Y.M.C.A. Training School). There is still a very close relationship between Springfield College and the Y.

Almost overlooked in the hubbub of big dollar sports entertainment is a jewel of a site, the Springfield Armory. From 1794 to 1968, this was a
very important and active part of our military
readiness. Every American administration up through the 21st century has depended on Springfield rifles to outfit our troops, and the city of Springfield once boasted about the Armory and people were thrilled to be working there.

Today the Armory is in pretty sad shape. It is a National Park Service site, but it doesn't get too many visitors, and the area around it is a bit run down. It was a huge complex in its peak, and obviously not all of that can be preserved. It is great that much of it has been re-purposed into Springfield Technical Community College campus buildings. But no one in Springfield or Massachusetts should feel any shame or chagrin at having produced some of the best weapons ever manufactured in this country. The weapons and the soldiers who used them were employed on our behalf, not against our population. This alone is a pretty awesome thing considering the rest of the world's history of weapons used against their own populace.

While we were there they had part of a traveling exhibit called "100 faces of War" displayed. These are photographs or paintings of people along with whatever written material they wanted to add reflecting on the war in Iraq. There were 10 panels there. Nine of them were from people who have or had served directly. The other, in my not-so-humble opinion, didn't belong there. It was from a peace activist. Peace is good, activism is good, and free speech is very, very good. Most soldiers prefer peace to being shot at or having to shoot at other people. But that perspective just didn't belong with these young people, some of whom are now deceased due to their service. I'm probably very biased about that having grown up in a military household, married a military man, and having served in the military myself. So, it's just my .02 but hey, it's my blog, right?

The other thing that bothered me about the Armory is what my husband told me when I asked, "so, if we've closed the armories, where do our soldiers get their weapons?" He said it's all private contracting now. In other words, our government has no direct control over weapons manufactured in this country. I'm all for contracting out when it makes sense financially for the country, but this is worrisome.

The last day in the RV was hard because we knew it would be a long one. As we traveled through Pennsylvania we had some pretty bad thunderstorms overhead. My husband was the model of cool as he dog-wrassled Lurch down I-81. Because we were really, really, bored, my son and I made videos of the stuffed animals who accompanied us on the trip. This one stars Cheddar, the wonder mouse.

At any rate, we finally made it home. And our parakeet was really glad to see us. Although she was okay with our neighbor coming over twice a day, she wasn't happy, and let us know it! So next trip won't be so long!



Quilldancer said...

My ex- had a couple of ancient Springfield rifles that still fired. I shot one of the big heavy things. It knocked my on my behind! Still, they were very well made and indeed an important part of American history.

Your mouse video may never win any awards, but it made me smile.

SouthLakesMom said...

Thank you Quilly -- we have 4 more of those videos...we were REALLY bored!

carol g said...

Thank you for stopping by my blog. I 'ran' over to read your Springfield and Sunday posts. I would be interested to know why you chose Springfield. From what I gather, you were on a road trip. I ask because I am originally from Pittsfield, MA (about an hour west of Springfield). I also have traveled I-81 many times to visit my oldest son who lived just south of Harrisburg, PA. My second son still lives in Pittsfield and he affirms it has been a very rainy and wet summer back East.

Thank you for an interesting story about Springfield. I lived so close and never visited either place.