David Vela Sails Through Senate Confirmation Hearing To Become NPS Director

David Vela Sails Through Senate Confirmation Hearing To Become National Park Service Director


From National Parks Traveler

By Kurt Repanshek on November 15th, 2018

Grand Teton Superintendent David Vela encountered few tough questions Thursday during his confirmation hearing to become director of the National Park Service/NPS

David Vela encountered little turbulence Thursday during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, pledging to set the standard for accountability and transparency as director of the National Park Service.

On issues ranging from sexual misconduct and other forms of harassment to addressing the nearly $12 billion backlog of maintenance needs across the National Park System, Vela, currently Grand Teton National Park's superintendent, essentially said the buck stops with him.

"I think it starts with the individual, and if confirmed, setting the example as director, setting the bar as to what is not acceptable," Vela replied when U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, pointed to ethical transgressions in the Interior Department, singling out ongoing investigations into Secretary Ryan Zinke's behavior, and asked what he would change to deal with "this spree of unethical behavior" if confirmed.

"It starts at the top. If confirmed I will provide that leadership," added Vela.

Sen. Wyden was not satisifed, though, saying he couldn't support the nomination unless Vela specifically addressed how he would change what the senator viewed as lackluster regard for ethical behavior.

If confirmed, Vela would become the first Latino to rise to the directorship of the Park Service. He was nominated for the director's job on August 31. Before becoming superintendent at Grand Teton in 2014, Vela worked in Washington, D.C., as the Park Service's associate director for Workforce, Relevancy and Inclusion. He oversaw NPS programs including Human Resources, Learning and Development, Equal Opportunity, Youth, and the Office of Relevancy, Diversity & Inclusion. Prior to that, he was director of the agency's Southeast Region based in Atlanta.

Vela, should the Senate confirm him, will take the reins of an agency that has been struggling with a staggering deferred maintenance backlog, and low morale among a workforce that has grappled with sexual harassment issues, low pay, work-life balance inequity, concerns over leadership, and concerns around strategic management, according to the 2017 Best Places To Work survey.

During the two-hour hearing, which Vela shared with nominees for the Assistant Secretary of Energy (Nuclear Energy) and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the Park Service veteran encountered few tough questions outside of workplace misconduct.

He was not asked about Secretary Zinke's push for more lenient hunting and trapping regulations in national preserves in Alaska, about carrying capacities for visitation in crowded parks, about President Trump's proposed cuts in manpower and budget for the Park Service, or whether, as then-director of the Park Service's Southeast Region, he worked with Pedro Ramos, at the time superintendent of Big Cypress, to try to persuade then-NPS Director Jon Jarvis to waive a section of the National Park Service's Management Policies pertaining to wilderness-quality landscapes so they could allow ORV use in 147,000 acres that were added to Big Cypress in 1996.

Vela did say he believed in climate science, voiced support for the Restore Our Parks Act legislation before Congress that could provide up to $6.5 billion to address the park system's maintenance backlog, for continuation of the Land and Water Conservation Fund that expired at the end of September, and was open to discussing a redesignation of New River Gorge National River as New River Gorge National Park and Preserve, with the "preserve" added to allow continued hunting in the unit. 

He did balk a bit when Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, said more units of the park system should charge entrance fees. Currently, just 115 of the 418 units charge the fees.

“I think fees play a role and I think what we need to do as we tackle the challenges … that we need to take a hard look at all options," said Vela. "But at the same time, and in the same breath, we need to take a look at who we might be excluding from the process, who don’t have the ability to pay additional fees. So I think those interests are equally compelling and equally important.”

The nomination is expected to go before the full Senate before year's end.

Joe Lachowski selected at the new chief ranger for Gettysburg NMP and Eisenhower NHS

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Joe Lachowski has been selected at the new chief ranger for Gettysburg NMP and Eisenhower NHS

Gettysburg, Pa. – Joe Lachowski has been selected to serve as the new chief ranger for Gettysburg National Military Park and Eisenhower National Historic Site, the National Park Service announced today.  The chief ranger serves as the senior law enforcement officer for Gettysburg and Eisenhower parks, responsible for the planning, direction, and execution of programs dealing with law enforcement and resource protection, emergency services and safety. 

“Growing up on the East Coast, I am excited to return to the area and serve the visitors and employees at these iconic parks” said Lachowski.  “I enjoy working in a variety of challenging situations and I am looking forward to becoming part of the hard-working team at Gettysburg and Eisenhower national parks.”

“We are delighted to have Ranger Lachowski join the staff,” said Lewis H. Rogers, acting superintendent at Gettysburg National Military Park and Eisenhower National Historic Site.  “His depth of experience along with his leadership skills will be great assets to park operations, ensuring safe and successful experience for our more than one million annual visitors.”

Lachowski was a supervisor and protection ranger in both Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and Grand Teton National Park. He is currently attending the National Park Service’s GOAL Academy, a leadership and organizational advancement program. His experience includes all aspects of supervision, management, the incident command system, complex investigations, daily law enforcement operations, structural and wildland fire management and operations, emergency medical services, search and rescue operations and interagency cooperation and operations.

The Secretary of the Interior presented Lachowski with an award for valor in 2014 for the rescue of a drowning victim in extreme surf conditions in Lake Michigan.  He has held a number of positions in the National Park Service since 1997.  He has a Master of Science in Wildlife Ecology from the University of Maine, Orono, and a Bachelor of Science in Wildlife Management from Utah State University. 

Lachowski will begin his new duties in January.

Gettysburg National Military Park preserves, protects and interprets for this and future generations the resources associated with the 1863 Battle of Gettysburg, during the American Civil War, the Soldiers' National Cemetery, and their commemorations. Learn more at www.nps.gov/gett

Eisenhower National Historic Site preserves and interprets the home and farms of the Eisenhower family as a fitting and enduring memorial to the life, work, and times of General Dwight David Eisenhower, 34th president of the United States, and to the events of far-reaching importance that occurred on the property.  Learn more at www.nps.gov/eise

Gettysburg Remembrance Day parade on Saturday, November 17, 2018

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2018 - Gettysburg Remembrance Day parade on Saturday, November 17, 2018

For the second year a threat has been made to the annual Gettysburg Remembrance Day parade. While we do not know the nature of the threat, we have been asked by the Gettysburg Police Department to use the same parade route as last year. The parade will line up on Lefever Street, will make a left onto Baltimore Street, then right onto Steinwehr Ave and will proceed up Steinwehr Avenue and will make a left onto Taneytown Road, up Taneytown Road and will make a left onto Cyclorama Drive where the parade will disperse. While we are sorry for the change of route the safety of all of the participants and spectators is paramount. Various law enforcement agencies will be on hand and as we stated last year if you see something suspicious, please say something. Let’s make this a great parade. Thank you for your support of the annual Gettysburg Remembrance day Parade. 

We invite you to join us at the parade briefing slated for Saturday, November 17 at 9:30 AM at the Eisenhower Hotel and Conference Center, 2634 Emmitsburg Road. Let’s not allow this threat to stop us. Let us have a great parade and honor the men in the Blue and the Gray! 

Civil War Era Camp Nelson Named a National Monument

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Camp Nelson: In the Footsteps of Freedom

Established as a Union supply depot and hospital during the Civil War, Camp Nelson became a recruitment and training center for African American soldiers, and a refugee camp for their wives and children. Thousands of slaves risked their lives escaping to this site with the hope of securing their freedom and, ultimately, controlling their futures by aiding in the destruction of slavery.

Further info from National Parks Traveler:

“…Located in Jessamine County, Kentucky, Camp Nelson was one of the largest Union Army recruitment and training centers in the nation for African American soldiers, then known as U.S. Colored Troops. Thousands of enslaved African Americans risked their lives escaping to Camp Nelson with the hope of securing their freedom and controlling their own futures during and after the war.

Today, the site remains one of the best-preserved landscapes and archaeological sites associated with Civil War-era U.S. Colored Troops recruitment camps and the African American refugee experience. Camp Nelson will now be the 418th site that the National Park Service oversees.

“Camp Nelson, and all the patriots who have ties to it, holds an incredible place in America's history, and President Trump's action to designate Camp Nelson as a National Monument will ensure the ongoing protection of the site and the story,” Secretary Zinke said. “America's parks, battlefields and monuments tell the story of who we are as Americans. Camp Nelson was instrumental as a refuge for escaped and emancipated slaves. The camp tells the story about Americans who risked absolutely everything they have and everyone they love to fight for their freedom, the cause of liberty and to preserve the Union.

"I thank the President for using the Antiquities Act as it was truly intended and I can think of no better place for his use of the Act than to recognize African Americans for the sacrifices they made for this country and for the contributions they made for all Americans freedom than by elevating Camp Nelson to National Monument status," he added. 

Camp Nelson is the first national monument designation under President Trump. The designation was made with congressional and public input and involved extensive consultation with nearby private landowners, Interior staff said.

To provide a seamless transition from county to federal ownership and management, Jessamine County and the National Park Service have entered into an agreement to provide a cooperative framework for the protection, preservation, promotion, interpretation, and maintenance of the monument. During the transition, Jessamine County will provide continued assistance with operation and maintenance for an initial period.

President Trump designated the National Monument under the Antiquities Act, which gives the President the authority to “declare by public proclamation historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, and other objects of historic or scientific interest that are situated on land owned or controlled by the Federal Government to be national monuments.”

Lectures on Nov 2 & 3 at National Civil War Museum in Harrisburg

The Fate of a Confederate Deserter after Gettysburg

presented by Peter Carmichael

Fri Nov 2 at 6:00pm

National Civil War Museum

1 Lincoln Circle

@ Reservoir Park

Harrisburg, PA 17103

Marines in the Civil War: We Shall Do as Well as We Can

presented by Col Doug Douds

Sat Nov 3 at 1:00pm

National Civil War Museum

1 Lincoln Circle

@ Reservoir Park

Harrisburg, PA 17103

Civil War Artifacts Stolen at Kernstown


by Emerging Civil War

No honest person ever wants to discover, hear, or share news like this in the history community. Still, bad things happen, and by sharing the details, perhaps the thieves will be apprehended or unable to sell their stolen artifacts to unsuspecting buyers.

At the end of September 2018, the small museum operated by Kernstown Battlefield Association just south of Winchester, Virginia, was robbed. Only Civil War related artifacts were taken in the robbery which occurred between the 21st and 29th. Investigators believe the criminals entered the building through a second story window, avoided the motion sensors, and took the artifacts from the locked display cabinets.  Read more of this post

More Than 700 Lincoln Collectibles Are Set to Go on Auction


 This 1860 portrait of Abraham Lincoln, believed to be by John C. Wolfe, depicts the young presidential nominee without his signature beard (Courtesy of Swann Auction Galleries)

This 1860 portrait of Abraham Lincoln, believed to be by John C. Wolfe, depicts the young presidential nominee without his signature beard (Courtesy of Swann Auction Galleries)

By Meilan Solly
September 21, 2018

Harold Holzer’s passion for Lincolniana started early. When the historian was “barely out of [his teens],” he purchased the first item in his collection—a small envelope “franked,” or signed instead of stamped, by then-Congressman Abraham Lincoln. By the age of 22, he had narrowed his acquisitional interests down to engravings and lithographs depicting the legendary U.S. president.

Some 50 years later, Holzer’s collection boasts an impressive 740 artifacts, including an 1860 portrait of a beardless Lincoln, a 1907 bronze relief plaque that served as the basis of the likeness seen on pennies to this day and a plaster bust by the artist Sarah Fisher Ames. Given the sheer volume of his collection, it’s unsurprising that the assemblage took up a considerable amount of space in the Rye, New York, home Holzer shares with his wife Edith.

Now, as the couple finalizes plans to downsize to a Manhattan apartment, Holzer is preparing to part with his eclectic trove of Lincoln-related items. And, Julia Jacobs reports for the New York Times, the historian is planning on making a clean break by selling everything but a small selection of modern art.

Holzer’s Lincolniana will serve as the centerpiece of New York-based Swann Auction Galleries’ Printed & Manuscript Americana sale next week. According to Fine Books & Collections, the whopping 176-lot offering “explores America’s fascination with depictions of the 16th president, highlighting the breadth of representations of Lincoln.”

Swann sale specialist Rick Stattler tells Jacobs that Holzer’s collection offers modest financial value but remarkable historical and personal significance. A period portrait believed to be John C. Wolfe’s June 1860 painting of Lincoln is the most valuable item in the sale, with an estimate of between $12,000 and $18,000. The Fisher Ames plaster bust, which Holzer dates to just before the president delivered the Gettysburg Address, carries an estimate of between $6,000 and $9,000, as does a fourth-edition print released to show Lincoln’s likeness to crowds gathered at Chicago’s Wigwam convention hall for the announcement of the 1860 Republican presidential candidate. Overall, the sale is expected to bring in between $158,000 and $236,300.

According to Jacobs, the Holzers have been spending their weekends scouring flea markets for Lincolniana since the early 1970s. The search for Lincoln treasures brought them all over the northeast, including places like Adamstown, Pennsylvania, where Holzer chanced upon a print featuring Lincoln ascending to heaven in the company of angels (the design wasn’t original, as earlier printmakers had sold nearly identical ones of George Washington).

Holzer’s Lincoln fascination, of course, extends far beyond memorabilia: He has authored or edited 52 books on the president and has two more tomes forthcoming. In his introduction to the auction catalogue, Holzer explains that one of his earliest acquisitions, a lithograph of the Lincoln family crafted by Philadelphia artist Anton Hohenstein, sparked his interest in scholarly study of the president. Several weeks after making the initial purchase, Holzer chanced upon an image in Life Magazine depicting then-President Richard Nixon sitting in his White House study below what appeared to be the very lithograph he had just purchased.

As it turns out, the White House lithograph featured a similar design but was based on a different photograph of Lincoln. This realization “stimulated my lifelong effort to explore the nature of nineteenth century prints,” Holzer writes, “their political, commercial, and artistic origins, and their impact on period audiences.”

Despite dedicating the majority of his life to unraveling the public’s enduring fascination with Lincoln, and particularly representations of his physical appearance, Holzer notes that he can’t quite pinpoint his own lasting fascinating with Lincoln memorabilia.

“Part of the appeal may be locked into his mysterious expression, half smiling, half-frowning, always seeming to gaze toward a faraway place,” Holzer muses. “Perhaps our interest remains piqued, too, by Lincoln’s own endearing humility. He called himself ‘the homeliest man in the state of Illinois’ and a ‘very indifferent judge’ of his own portraits. Yet he sat for more painters, sculptors, and photographers than his contemporaries.”

As the auction nears, though, he tells Jacob he’s yet to feel an “emotional reaction.” Perhaps this is because the historian is shifting his focus to another head of state: President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

“I’ve been helped to a new stage in my life,” says Holzer, who has served as the director of New York’s Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute at Hunter College for the past three years. “Working here has liberated me in a way.”

Read more

Camp Letterman ~ The Very Dregs of the Battle by Glen Hayes

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Camp Letterman The Very Dregs of the Battle by Glen Hayes

from the Loyal Legion Historical Journal - Fall 2018 (see pages 10-11)


Love, n. A temporary insanity curable by marriage or by the removal of the patient from the influences under which he incurred the disorder.  
…from D.D.

Camp Letterman.jpeg

The Battle of Gettysburg was fought from July 1 to July 3, 1863 resulting in 51,000 casualties. When the armies left Gettysburg, more than 20,000 wounded soldiers were left behind in field hospitals, churches, schools, private homes, and elsewhere. In the three weeks that followed the battle, the Union medical department put forth an herculean effort to ready 16,000 of the wounded to be transported by rail to hospitals in various towns and cities.

However, the condition of more than 4,000 Union and Confederate wounded was too serious to travel. A decision was made that if the wounded could not be sent to a hospital, then a hospital would be brought to the wounded.

Camp Letterman General Hospital, named for Dr. Jonathan Letterman, Medical Director of the Army of the Potomac, would be set up about a mile from Gettysburg. Although the hospital would consist of tents instead of buildings, it would be run the same as a general hospital operating in a permanent structure. It would be the first general hospital located on a battlefield….

click on this link and then scroll to pages 10-11

The Mystery of the Glow-in-the-Dark Civil War Soldiers

Love, n. A temporary insanity curable by marriage or by the removal of the patient from the influences under which he incurred the disorder.  
…from D.D.

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By Lauren Davis, 4-7-12

See original article

The American Civil War Battle of Shiloh left 16,000 soldiers dead and 3,000 soldiers wounded, and some of those wounded soldiers are part of an odd mystery. Some of the soldiers had eerily glowing wounds, which healed more quickly than the non-glowing wounds. So what strange battlefield science was at work?

It took two days and nights for the medics to reach all of the wounded soldiers in Shiloh, and some of the soldiers noticed that their wounds glowed in the darkness. Because the glowing wounds healed more quickly and cleanly, the mysterious force was termed "Angel's Glow."

It wasn't until 2001 that this 1862 mystery was finally solved. Seventeen-year-old Bill Martin was visiting Shiloh with his family, where he heard about the strange glow. His mother, microbiologist at the USDA Agricultural Research Service, had studied luminescent bacteria, and Martin wondered if similar bacteria might have been at work. With his friend Jon Curtis, Martin researched Photorhabdus luminescens, a type of bacteria that lives in the guts of parasitic nematodes. When nematodes vomit up the glowing bacteria, P. luminescens kills the other microbes living in the nematoad's host.

Normally, P. luminescens couldn't live in the human body since it dies at human body temperature. But Martin and Curtis, studying the historical records and the conditions in Shiloh, realized that the nighttime temperatures were low enough for the soldiers to develop hypothermia, allowing the bacteria to thrive in their bodies, kill off competing bacteria, and perhaps save the lives of their human hosts.

For solving this decades old mystery, Curtis and Martin won first place in the 2001 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair.