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  1. Ronald L. Wenger

    Having been born and raised in Harrisonburg, I will always consider myself a Harrisonburger, I think it should really be pointed out that most of the area of Harrisonburg selected for “Urban Renewal” was in bad need of something. I was serving in the Army from 1963 to late 1966 when much of this work was done. I had delivered the Daily News Record in that area for a couple of years in the 1959-1961 time frame. My conception of this project was that most of it was done to break the strangle hold on that area by Cap Klingstine, who was the Burg’s slum lord for lack of a better title. A lot of these house occupied by folks of both the Black and White race really had no place else to go. Some of these home would often lean to one side or the other, one resident showed me how he had to go buy plywood at his own expense to keep from falling through the floor. Another used to nail old license plates over holes in the floor to keep the rats from biting their children. So much of the real bad history of this area has been forgotten in the nearly 60 years since that time. I find that it is sad that part of the Newtown Cemetery had been treated like that, especially since the state of VA used to have funds available for grave relocation, when Highways were involved. Racism in a southern city or any city in the US is hardly a surprise, My wife and I lived in Chambersburg, PA the first ten years of our married life. after work one night the girls she worked with went to the local Pizza Hut to get Pizza, there were 4 white girls and one black girl in the bunch. They were seated but no one would serve them. This was in 1978 hardly the time of Jim Crow. One of the persons in this article made the statement “For me personally, I don’t want African American history to be forgotten.” I agree with this, however the removal of Civil War statues and memorials is doing just that. Something to think about. If I were a black person, I would never want that period of time erased. If that is done today down the road 50-100 years the MLK memorials might be comming down. That would be another travesty because of the loss of history, we just can not try to burry history, we don’t necessarily need to celebrate it but we don’t want to forget it either.

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