Happy Halloween –
its said to be one of the oldest pagan festivals still celebrated today – started by the Celts of Ireland (they called it “Samhain” [end of summer] and believed dead spirits would revisit the mortal world.)
Older still may be the Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos) said to be routed in the Aztec tradition of honoring deceased relatives. The colonizing Spaniards tried to de-paganize the ritual by moving it to All Saints and All Souls Day.
the idea of remember our ancestors, of attending to their grave sites, of dancing and celebrating their lives, of knowing we r not alone – is pretty appealing. So today as i visited with pals with a roaring fire in the hearth and pondered where is George Veditz buried and as i watched the snow fall down on the trick or treaters and tried to get our pooch to stop barking with each little jazzed up commercially manufactured costume wearing tyke along with the classic teenager (ie Hobo – soot smeared on his/her face) and a overburdened pillowcase filled with their Hallow Eve’s loot slung over their shoulders and a bit of hail began to fall – i thought of:
Chief Seattle’s famous speech
And when the last Red Man shall have perished, and the memory of my tribe shall have become a myth among the White Men, these shores will swarm with the invisible dead of my tribe, and when your children’s children think themselves alone in the field, the store, the shop, upon the highway, or in the silence of the pathless woods, they will not be alone. In all the earth there is no place dedicated to solitude. At night when the streets of your cities and villages are silent and you think them deserted, they will throng with the returning hosts that once filled them and still love this beautiful land. The White Man will never be alone.
Let him be just and deal kindly with my people, for the dead are not powerless. Dead, did I say? There is no death, only a change of worlds.
And i thought – What Deaf Ancestors would i like to give a shout out for on this Day of the Dead?
Please add names ud like to remember:
– Alice Cogswell – the girl who inspired Thomas Gallaudet to sail the ocean blue and bring back Laurent Clerc and sign language. Alice died at 25 from a broken heart / depression after her father’s sudden death.
Without alice – who knows how or when Deaf ASL-English education would have begun in the U.S.
(statue by Frances Laughlin Wadsworth – Hartford, CT)
– George Veditz– yep, i adore the guy. He had dedication, intellect, com/passion, vision, forth-sight, etc. Over the past few years the more i learn about him the more i want to know more. Like where is he buried? Does anyone visit? Does anyone lay a stone at his grave site in the Jewish tradition? Or is it abandoned and uncared for as Laurent Clerc’s was until Al B. started a fund raiser to restore the grave site.
NOTE: see comments below for info on Veditz’s grave site and see https://handeyes.wordpress.com/2011/03/11/dorothy-wilkins-visit-to-veditzs-gravesite/ for Dorothy’s vlog with the actual tombstone etc
– Agatha Tiegel Hanson – one of the first Deaf women to graduate from Gallaudet who gave a kick butt presentation speech on the “Intellect of Woman” – she spoke of a noble hunger which women had for equality, justice, knowledge, etc.
– John Clarke – a Blackfoot Deaf Native American artist who did wood carvings mostly of animals and Native Americans. His Blackfeet name was Cutapius, the Man Who Talks Not) He attended an Indian school and several schools for the Deaf. He knew Plains Indians Sign Language.
– Andrew Foster – First African-American to gradduate from Gallaudet and he went on to set up over 30 schools for the Deaf in West Africa. He tragically died in a plane crash in Rwanda at 62.
There are many more – many more that I have yet to learn about and many I need to learn more about. We are always rediscovering, representing, reexamining, and renewing.
If we could institute a Deaf Day of the Dead some of these folks would be more readily imprinted into our collective memories and memorializing.
Who would you like us to remember and why?
Who are our ancestors who shall not be forgotten?
We got time – Day of the Dead and All Saints Night / All Souls Day goes into Nov
Doesn’t need to be anybody famous or big – plenty of unsung heros out there.
NOTE: after i clicked publish on this entry – i googled We Never Landed in Holland – a blog by Mel Orr – a Hearing mom of a Deaf son and Hearing daughter and I read her Halloween entry –
http://theotherdeafstory.blogspot.com/2010/10/my-favorite-worst-day-of-year.html. Tears streamed down – they are still. We are never alone folks.