Saint Augustine, Florida
Where do two roads meet? Where does education meet vacation? Can it? When did people decide that vacations were less about the personal gain and more about the materialistic ones? These were some the questions that popped into my head as a small group of us had the pleasure of talking to Sherry.
In Saint Augustine the group once again saw the portrayal of a certain kind of history. The kind where details are given in depth (repetitively), other details are shaded over, while the remainders are not acknowledged at all. This is what American history is all about. It reminds me of some foreign dance. You think you finally figured it out and the pieces are out in the open. Then you realize that half the puzzle is conveniently missing. But what is even more absurd is that we the people do not demand that all of the pieces be given to us in the very beginning. In fact we are almost relieved sometimes when they are not. For example, today we went to Mission Nombre’ de Dios. The place gave remembrance to the establishing of the first Catholic mission parish… Yay. It recognized the great fact that the Spaniards came here and were so very giving that they shared one of their most valued possessions, their religion. Which is a powerful thing and if that was all they did I could probably respect them a lot. But, it is not. First they failed their fellow people of today by not telling them the whole truth. Secondly, they failed me personally by the way in which they “shared” their religion to the Native Americans.
We demand our “criminals” to tell the whole truth and nothing else. We do not demand this of our storytellers and historians. Instead we feel warm and fuzzy when they do not. The Mission had this plaque that told of the 40+ missions they created in the new land. It even had this nice little picture. It portrayed a Father of the church with a little Native American boy (the gender thing is important too, do not overlook it). Later on this evening I learned that this plaque left out much in its commemoration. I am a student this is what I am supposed to be looking for. Just think about its impact on the many people who just take it for its face value without ever gaining any other additional information or perspectives. The, plaque failed to mention that prior to ‘sharing’ their religion and converting these people (converting… do we really want to convert, can’t we find strength in our differences? And by converting do we not completely eliminate something else…). Anyways that is a tangent to avoid currently. So before this converting took place the Native Americans had already endured a lot. They had been captured, imprisoned, and enslaved while others were just killed.
I liked St. Augustine, can you tell? No, honestly I did. It was a nice town. It is just like every other American town though. We fail to face our true history for its best and worst. This lack of embracing the entire truth can be a weakness. Especially when people are going to these important places and no longer are they recognizing their significance in American culture for all its complexities. Instead our culture is being altered to not include whole truths but rather t-shirts with cheesy designs on them.