It’s All About Perspective

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The older I get the more I appreciate perspective.

I photographed this marker in a cemetery in Portland, Oregon early in July of this year. I didn’t expect to find such a marker in the Pacific northwest and was rather shocked when I saw it.  One just doesn’t think of Oregon in relation to the Civil War. I CERTAINLY wouldn’t expect to find one line this in the state of Georgia where I now call home. If I were north of the Mason-Dixon line one might expect to see such a marker. Not that many miles from where we now live is Stone Mountain with gigantic carved relief images of the leaders of the army of the Confederacy…but none of any of those mentioned on this stone who were the “saviors of our union”.  Nor would such a monument as Stone Mountain be found north of the Mason-Dixon line.

Isn’t that like so much of what we see going on in our country today?  So many of our differences are about perspective (not all, but many) and we’ve grown angry to the point of not even wanting to hear another perspective or consider its merits if it is different in the slightest from our own. We’ve become so cock-sure of ourselves and our own perspective that we immediately denigrate any other perspective – and those who hold them.

I fear we have much to re-learn as a nation. Instead of constantly insulting and castigating one another – no matter which perspective we hold – could we not at least treat another perspective (and the person who holds it) with respect as human beings?

I was a teen during the late ’60’s and early ’70’s, the age of “flower power”, Haight Ashbury, the “summer of love” and Woodstock. For all that may have been wrong about some of those things, at least people were by and large treated respectfully. Perhaps they were the “good old days” after all.  By contrast (perspective?) they sure seem better than today!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1715, a hurricane struck the east coast of Florida, sinking 10 Spanish treasure ships and killing nearly 1,000 people, on this day in 1715. All of the gold and silver on board at the time would not be recovered until 250 years later.

From 1701, Spain sent fleets of ships to the Western Hemisphere to bring back natural resources, including gold and silver. These groups of ships were heavily fortified against pirates, but there was little that could be done to protect them from bad weather.

On July 24, ten Spanish ships and one French ship left Havana, Cuba, on their way to Europe, carrying tons of gold and silver coins, about 14 million pesos worth. The Spanish ships stayed very close to the Florida coast, as was the custom, while the French ship, the Grifon, ventured further out from the shore. A week later, as the ships were between Cape Canaveral and Fort Pierce, in modern-day Florida, the winds picked up dramatically.

The hurricane advanced quickly and, one by one, the ships were wrecked. The Nuestra Senora de la Regla sank, sending 200 people and 120 tons of coins to a watery grave. The Santa Cristo de San Ramon went down with 120 sailors aboard. In all, somewhere between 700 and 1,000 people lost their lives in the wrecks. Meanwhile, the Grifon was able to ride out the storm; most of its crew survived.

In the following months, Spanish officials in Havana sent ships to salvage the treasure. About 80 percent had been recovered by April 1716, but the rest remained lost until the 1960’s.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: in the few signatures that have survived, Shakespeare spelled his name “Willm Shaksp,” “William Shakespe,” “Wm Shakspe,” “William Shakspere,” ”Willm Shakspere,” and “William Shakspeare”–but never “William Shakespeare”.

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