Greetings and salutations from the sand, sun and surf of Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and the great island of Nantucket! Great to be with you on this Friday, the twentieth day of August, 2010, as I sit down to write this humble commentary about the visit of our President to the beautiful island of Martha’s Vineyard, a place I know very well and love even more. I was introduced to this great island back in the summer of 1987, where I was lucky enough to work at the Edgartown Yacht club after graduating from the University of Vermont. I, being a history major, had no real idea what I was going to do with my life, although I had an “offer” from Jordan Marsh, as an executive trainee, in Hyannis, that was to start in the month of August, 23 years ago. Jordan Marsh, a department store based in Boston, has long gone out of business, and, perhaps, I was, again, lucky, that I did not take that job, for I fell in love with a girl from Michigan, who I ended up marrying, and moving back to Boston, via Detroit, and realizing how much this little island really means to me. The marriage did not work out, but the love remains nonetheless. Love, for an island that is full of majesty and grace, mystery and myth, never losing it’s charm, through the endless battles we have fought collectively as a nation. Martha’s Vineyard, including the smaller Chappaquiddick Island off the south of Cape Cod, is often called just “The Vineyard”, and is the largest true island of the East Coast of the United States. Originally inhabited by the Wampanoag, Martha’s Vineyard was known in their language as Noepe, or “land amid the streams”. In 1642 the Wampanoag numbered somewhere around 3,000 on the island. By 1764, that number had dropped to 313. A smaller island to the south was named “Martha’s Vineyard” by the English explorer Bartholomew Gosnold, who sailed to the island in 1602. The name was soon transferred to the big island. It is thus the eighth oldest surviving English place name in the United States. Gosnold’s mother-in-law and his second child, who died in infancy, were both named Martha. Gosnold perhaps named Martha’s Vineyard after his daughter, who was christened in St. James’ Church (now St. Edmundsbury Cathedral). British settlement had its origin in the purchase of Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket, and the Elizabeth islands by Thomas Mayhew of Watertown, Massachusetts from two British “owners”. During his lifetime, he had friendly relations with the Wampanoags on the island in part because he was careful to honor their land rights as well. His son, also Thomas Mahew, began the first English settlement in 1642 at Great Harbor (later Edgartown, Massachusetts). Indian literacy in the schools founded by Mayhew and taught by Peter Folger, the grandfather of Benjamin Franklin, was such that the first Native American graduates of Harvard were from Martha’s Vineyard, including the son of Hiacoomes, Joel Hiacoomes. “The ship Joel Hiacoomes was sailing on, as he was returning to Boston from a trip home shortly before the graduation ceremonies was found wrecked on the shores of Nantucket Island.” Caleb Cheeshahteaumauk, the son of a sachem of Homes Hole did graduate from Harvard in the class of 1665. They were literate in Wampanoag, English, Hebrew, Greek, and Latin. All of the early Indian graduates died shortly after completing their course study. However, their were many native preachers on the island who also preached in the English churches from time to time. Moving forward to the 20th century, we saw in 1974, Steven Spielberg film the movie Jaws on this great island. Spielberg selected island natives Christopher Rebello as Chief Brody’s (played by the late great Roy Schneider) oldest son, Michael Brody. Of course, the great Richard Dreyfuss made the movie come to life along with his work as, and I don’t think he was acting, an expert marine biologist who had not sold out to oil companies and the like. In fact, his dedication to the concept of safety of people over profit was an inspiration to me, as I had the honor to meet him right here in Osterville, while filming a film called the “Lightkeepers”. On March 5, 1982, John Belushi died of complications of a drug overdose in Los Angeles, California, and was buried four days later in Abel’s Hill Cemetery in Chilmark. Belushi often visited the Vineyard and his family felt it fitting to bury him there. On his gravestone is the quote, “Though I may be gone, Rock ‘N’ Roll lives on.” Because of the many visitors to his grave and the threat of vandalism, his body was moved somewhere nearby the gravesite. His grave remains a popular site for visitors to Chilmark and they often leave tokens in memory of the late, GREAT, comedian. On July 16, 1999, a small plane crashed off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard, claiming the lives of pilot John F. Kennedy Jr., his wife Carolyn Bessette and her sister Lauren Bessette. Kennedy’s mother, former U.S. FIRST LADY Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, maintained a home in Aquinnah (formerly Gay Head) until her death in 1994. With the arrival of our true President of the United States, Barack Obama, to this grand island of myth and lore, we should examine our rich history as a country a little deeper. We should embrace the differences between us and then come to the realization that we are really are not that different afterall. Why would we want anything different? I was on the Vineyard two weeks ago and spent some time in Saint Elizabeth’s church in Edgartown, where I sat, all alone, in the quiet darkness of that peaceful sactuary, not a soul around, adorned with stainglass windows, colored in purple and green, denoting love and acceptance, the real message of a man who once roamed this earth 2010 years ago, and thought of my own grandmother Elizabeth, who passed one year ago. She was 104 years old, and had no regrets of her love for her family, her country and the world at large. Her last days were spent in the arms of the nuns of the great Catholic order, “The Little Sisters of the Poor,” who cared for her with all of the love that GOD IS. I sat there in that quiet darkness, surrounded by LIGHT, and knew there was an answer to this craziness we all seem to be caught up in. And that answer is LOVE. GOD’S SPEED to the GULF, the people of Bayou, the SEA TURTLES, DOLPHINS, WHALES, BROWN PELICANS, and marsh lands therein…May the TRUTH of corexit 3500 and the lies of the National Oceanographic Atmospheric Administration come out SOON…and may we SEE what the floods of Pakistan (to help, go to SWAT and text your donation to 50555), shows us how “the greatest hoax ever played on the American people”, via James “she’ll be comin’ round the mountain when when she comes”, Inhofe (R-OK), i.e. GLOBAL WARMING is coming home to roost, despite his ignorance and stupidity. Believe it. Have a great week end folks! Peace~M
August 20, 2010
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