May 17th Meanderings, by Jim Peters

The following was submitted for posting by frequent contributor Jim Peters:

I know it is spring because of the number of calls I receive for my landscaping business, but, more importantly, for the number of people I see getting out there and sprucing up their homes and businesses, like the twenty or so people I saw at the Jolene Park the other day. Memorial Day is coming and that means cookouts, and assemblies for our dead servicemen. Not only those who died in battle or as a result of wounds suffered in battle, but all of our beloved servicemen and women, as well as our beloved citizens who worked and lived all over the state and the nation.

I hope we can get a crew together at the Textile Memorial (University Avenue) Bridge to drop sixteen roses off of the bridge into the water below in honor of the sixteen men from Lowell Textile Institute who died for their country in World War II. My wife had a student once who said he had spent the summer learning about World War Eleven. He confused the II with 11. I do not want to spend any time studying a WWIII, let alone a WW Eleven. Speaking of which, I just found out there is a buildup of aircraft carriers across the globe. No single, in my opinion, invention of man has taken more lives, both on the ground and in the air, than the airplane. Used intelligently, it is a marvelous mechanism for getting from one place to another quickly. Used incorrectly, it is a killing machine.
That is just my thought.

On that note, my mind, or what is left of it, goes to the question, “When are we getting out of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya?” We elected this president on the supposition that he would pull the troops in a relatively smart fashion. We are not empire builders, we are just simple Americans who seem to be worried about our own woes. Britain and France were empire builders and they are a fraction of the power they once possessed. If we do not concentrate on not being the world’s policeman, we will never get rid of the debt, and the loss of lives that we suffer in and all over the world will continue to increase.

I used to wonder, as a Political Science major, why more young people did not get into voting faithfully at the age of eighteen. The simple answer seems to be that there is nothing there to draw them to it anymore. The halycon days of the early 1960’s are not there anymore. People are rightfully concerned about their own pockets and handbags, and not about the effect they could have by joining together and voting. I have learned of the abysmal numbers of voters coming from this age group, and I can say after having taught for some twenty years, that they are, as Henry David Thoreau so famously said, hearing the beat of a different drummer. That excuse only goes so far, however. When they refuse to stay in touch with the drudgery which can be associated with staying educated enough to vote intelligently, they are frittering away their rights. And diminishing those sacrifices made by the men and women in the armed services.

But, we are not reaching all groups. I understand that thousands of our oriental immigrants in Lowell do not vote, even though their English skills are not the problem. One man who really should be on the City Council, in my opinion, by virtue of his pride in and work in Lowell, is Veasna Nuon. He lives in the Highlands and if you need a hand doing virtually anything good, Veasna is always right there. I asked him to run for the Council but was told by a third party that the lack of interest in the voting process by the Cambodian population made it tough to commit to a run. And Veasna has run twice for School Committee and lost. With those numbers in the tens of thousands, more Cambodians than just Rithy Uong should be members of the Council and School Committee. Rithy was a pioneer. We have room for a few more pioneers here. Voting in this city could and should be a vibrant issue in this city election. Let’s get people registered and voting this year, young and old, rich and poor, and people of all races and religions.

The Congregational Church, commonly known as the Smith Baker Center, was the birthplace of the Lowell National Historical Park. I was the son of the Superintendent of Schools when he sent me over there to hear this interesting historical story of Dr. Patrick Mogan and Peter Stamas. In a closet, they had the canals made from painted pieces of wood painted blue on the inside to denote water. To the best of my memory, Dr. Mogan stated that he could see gondolas being used for transportation in one scenario, the other being pretty much what actually happened. He was obviously joking about the gondolas part. I was very proud of the fact that my father would let me see a plan in its infancy. As the years have gone by, I also realize that he used school department money to fund the discussion and creation of what would become the Lowell National Historical Park. Now, he has asbestos cancer, is deathly sick, but still as sharp as a tack.

One Response to May 17th Meanderings, by Jim Peters

  1. EileenL says:

    Is there a listing of the 16 men that gave their lives? It would be interesting to find out about them and their families.