Posts Tagged ‘Georgetown University’

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Saint Ignatius of Loyola Statue

A statue of Saint Ignatius of Loyola is located in front of White-Gravenor Hall (MAP) on the campus of Georgetown University.  And as I was riding around the sprawling campus on this lunchtime bike ride I stopped to check it out.

Born Inigo Lopez de Loyola, the man who would become known as Ignatius of Loyola entered the world on October 23, 1491, in Loiola, Spain.  At the time, the name of the village was spelled “Loyola,” hence the discrepancy in spelling.  Loiola is a small village at the southern end of Azpeitia, in northern Spain, and is where Inigo came of age.  Inigo was the youngest of thirteen children. His mother died when he was just seven, and he was then raised by Maria de Garin, who was the wife of a local blacksmith.  At about the age of eighteen Inigo began to refer to himself as Ignatius, a variant of Inigo, because he thought it sounded more dignified and would bring him wider acclaim and recognition.

During his lifetime he was many things, including a member of the aristocracy in a Basque noble family, a knight, and a hermit.  He was also an officer in the Spanish Army.  It was during this time in the military that he was struck by a cannonball in the leg.  Oddly, he thought that his leg had been set poorly after the cannonball incident and that, as a result, he wouldn’t look good in his courtier’s tights. So he had a doctor rebreak his leg and start over.  Eventually part of his leg had to be amputated and caused him to walk with a limp for the rest of his life.  It was during his time recuperating from his injury that he became a devout Christian.  And by the spring of the following year, Ignatius had recovered enough to leave bed.

On March 25, 1522, he entered the Benedictine monastery, Santa Maria de Montserrat.  And beginning in 1537 he became a priest and theologian who would eventually go on to found the religious order called the Society of Jesus. Some people did not appreciate the Society of Jesus and dubbed them “Jesuits” in an attempt to disparage them. While the name stuck, by virtue of their good work the label lost its negative connotation.  The Jesuit Order served the Pope as missionaries, and they were bound by a vow of absolute obedience to the Pope.

The Jesuits would soon find a niche in education. Before Ignatius died, it established 35 schools and boasted 1,000 members. Today, the Jesuit Order is known for its work in educating the youth around the globe. Several universities have been founded in the name of Ignatius and in the traditional Jesuit spirit, including  Georgetown University, which is the oldest Catholic and Jesuit-affiliated institution of higher education in the United States.

Ignatius was beatified in 1609, and then canonized, receiving the title of Saint on March 12, 1622.  Saint Ignatius is venerated as the patron saint of educators and education, Catholic soldiers, the Military Ordinariate of the Philippines, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Baltimore, the Jesuit Society, all spiritual retreats, the Basque country, and various towns and cities in his native region.  He died on July 31, 1556, his feast day in the Catholic Church, as a result of the Roman Fever, a severe case of malaria that recurred in Rome, Italy, at different points in history.

However, Ignatius was not always very saintly.  During much of his young adult life he was vain, with dreams of personal honor and fame. According to one of  Ignatius’ biographers, he was a fancy dresser, an expert dancer, a womanizer, sensitive to insult, a gambler, and a rough punkish swordsman who was arrested but used his privileged status to escape prosecution for violent crimes committed with his priest brother.  One time, upon encountering a Moor who denied the divinity of Jesus, he challenged him to a duel to the death and ran him through with his sword.  Another time, he allowed the donkey on which he was riding to determine whether he should follow and murder someone he thought had insulted the Blessed Virgin Mary. Fortunately, the donkey chose the path that led away from the insulter.  Ignatius is said to have dueled many other men as well, gaining a reputation in his time.  As some have noted, having been arrested for nighttime brawling with intent to inflict serious harm, he may be the only saint with a notarized police record.

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The Empty Grave of Frank Kameny

On today’s lunchtime bike ride I stopped by Historic Congressional Cemetery, located at 1801 E Street (MAP) in southeast D.C.’s Barney Circle neighborhood, where I visited the gravesite of Frank Kameny. Known as “one of the most significant figures” in the American gay rights movement,” Kameny’s lived an impactful public life. But as was suggested by the title of this blog post, his story doesn’t end there.

Franklin Edward Kameny was born on May 21, 1925 to Ashkenazi Jewish parents in New York City. He grew up in New York City and graduated from high school at the age of 16, and went on to college to study physics. Before he could complete his education he was drafted into the U.S. Army and served in the European theater throughout World War II. After being honorably discharged from the service, he returned to college and earned a degree in physics in 1948. He then went on to enroll in Harvard, where he studied astronomy and earned a master’s degree in 1949, and doctorate in 1956.

After a year teaching at Georgetown University, he obtained a civil service job as an astronomer with the U.S. Army Map Service in July of 1957. It wasn’t long afterward that an investigator from the U.S. Civil Service Commission came to question him about reports that he was a homosexual. That fall, only a few months after being hired, he was fired for being gay.  And in January of 1958, he was barred forever from Federal government employment. Kameny formally appealed his firing, first through formal channels, then all the way to the House and Senate Civil Service Committees, and President Dwight D. Eisenhower.  After not prevailing through those channels, he filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court to get his job back. But he lost that too, as well as a subsequent appeal in the Federal Court of Appeals. Then after being abandoned by his lawyer who declared his cause hopeless, Kameny personally brought and represented himself in a landmark albeit unsuccessful appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.  Although he lost the case, the proceeding was notable as the first known civil rights claim based on sexual orientation pursued in a U.S. court.

For the vast majority of people during that time, homosexuality was seen as abhorrent, sinful, and criminal. Even most homosexuals thought so too. So there were not any gay rights organizations in D.C. for Kameny to turn to. So in a move that would begin a lifelong role as an organizer and an advocate, Kameny decided to start one of his own. He was a cofounder of the Mattachine Society of Washington, and later the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance, and the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, the National Gay Task Force, and the National Gay Rights Lobby, which was the first national political lobbying organization for the gay and lesbian community. He also led the first gay rights protests at the White House, the Pentagon, the State Department, the Civil Service Commission, and at Independence Hall in Philadelphia. He would also become the first openly gay person to run for Congress, help lobby the American Psychiatric Association to declassify homosexuality as a mental illness, create the first test case against the military ban on gay service by Air Force Sgt. Leonard Matlovich, and be appointed a Commissioner of the D.C. Commission on Human Rights, thereby becoming the first gay municipal appointee.

In 2007, Kameny’s death was mistakenly reported by The Advocate, an American LGBT-interest magazine, alongside a mistaken report that he had HIV. The report was retracted with an apology. A little over four years later Kameny died from natural causes due to arteriosclerotic cardiovascular disease.  He died on October, 11, 2011, coinciding with National Coming Out Day, an annual awareness day pertaining to the voluntary self-disclosure of one’s sexual orientation.  His body was subsequently cremated, and Timothy Clark, his legal heir, took possession of the ashes. Because Clark and the Kameny estate lacked the financial means, a burial plot was purchased by a LGBT charitable group named Helping Our Brothers and Sisters. But Clark would not allow the interment of the ashes to take place until ownership of the cemetery plot was signed over to the estate. And after years of fighting between the Kameny family, friends, and Clark, his ashes have still not been interred in the plot. However, the headstone, along with a footstone bearing the slogan, “Gay is Good,” which Kameny coined in 1968, were placed at the plot last year. Clark subsequently interred the ashes at an undisclosed location, and has asked the public to respect “his wishes and his privacy.”

The area of the cemetery where the Kameny memorial headstone is located has in recent years become somewhat of a tourist attraction, particularly to those in the LGBT community.  Kameny’s plot is located right behind that of Leonard Matlovich, as well as the nearby gravesites of J. Edgar Hoover and Clyde Tolson.  A growing number of other out gays, including veterans and couples, have also chosen to be buried in the same once obscure graveyard such as gay rights pioneers Randy Wicker, Barbara Gittings and Kay Lahusen.  Also, members of American Veterans for Equal Rights have purchased eight nearby adjoining plots to create a LGBT veterans memorial.

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Dog Tag Bakery

When I stopped during a recent bike ride to take a photo of a mural I saw on the side of a building, I met a very nice young woman named Andrea, who was also there photographing the mural. As we talked I found out that she had been discharged from the Marine Corps, and had moved to D.C. from Texas to go back to school. During the course of our conversation I also found out that she works at a place called Dog Tag Bakery. My initial thought was that it was probably one of those trendy boutique bakeries that makes dog treats and caters to wealthy pet owners. But when she went on to explain the background and purpose behind the bakery, I found it very interesting. So on this bike ride, I decided to go to the Dog Tag Bakery, located just off Wisconsin Avenue at 3206 Grace Street (MAP) in northwest D.C.’s Georgetown neighborhood, and check it out for myself.

While it might seem like the idea behind the bakery is to sell delicious baked goods, the Dog Tag Bakery is really all about giving back to those who have served in the military.  The bakery is just a storefront for a larger program run by Dog Tag Inc., a nonprofit organization founded by Rick Curry, a Jesuit priest and adjunct professor of Catholic studies at Georgetown University, and Connie Milstein, a successful attorney, real estate investor, entrepreneur and philanthropist. The program utilizes baking and running a bakery business as a way to help ease the transition of entrepreneurial-minded wounded veterans returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan, and their spouses, back into civilian life by providing an innovative training program and leadership development opportunities.

The Dog Tag Program is made up of courses that are tailored to the business focused goals of the participants.  The courses include accounting, principles of management, communication, corporate finance, marketing, business policy and entrepreneurship. Participants who successfully complete the six-month program earn a Certificate of Business Administration from Georgetown University’s School of Continuing Studies.

Dog Tag’s Grace Street facility not only contains the bakery and storefront, but a classroom and office space as well. It also contains a stage, which is where veterans participate in occasional spoken-word events in which they address audiences about their experiences as part of their training in communication. Not to be missed if you stop by the bakery is the chandelier that hangs above the stage. The Dog Tag chandelier is made from 3,456 individual military dog tags. The unique display is intended to honor all the servicemen and women.

One of the best aspects of the Dog Tag program is that it helps the participants to focus on their abilities and not the ir disability. The program helps them to not look at a disability as a hindrance. And Father Curry may be the ideal man for such a program. Despite being born with only one arm, Father Curry believes that disability is a gift. He has said. “It can be difficult to accept, but in the long run to accept your disability as a gift is positive.”

Second only to the graduates the program produces, the Dog Tag Bakery also produces delicious baked goods.  Open Tuesday through Sunday from 8:00am until 6:00pm, their menu not only includes a variety of breads, cookies, brownies and pastries, but breakfast and lunch items as well.  The breakfast menu includes items like breakfast sandwiches, fruit cups, a parfait with yogurt and homemade granola, or a veggie fritatta.  However, I stopped by for lunch.

Having to choose among the various sandwiches and salads on their lunch menu was difficult, but on this ride I chose was the Turkey, Brie & Cranberry Mayo on fresh-baked Honey Wheat Bread.  The softness of the bread combined with the moist, flavorful turkey combined with the sweetness of the cranberry mayo was perfectly complimented by the saltiness of the sea salt kettle chips they served with it.  I splurged and also got a slice of carrot cake for dessert.  It was moist and perfectly spiced.  It is a nut free bakery, so there were no walnuts in the carrot cake, which was to my liking because I prefer it without nuts anyway.  I also got some mini quick bread to go.  They offer banana, cranberry and pumpkin spice.  I chose the latter.

Although I have only been there once so far, everything I had was delicious, and everything else I saw looked equally appetizing.  So I’ll be going there again soon, and I recommend that you do the same.

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Holy Rood Cemetery

Holy Rood Cemetery

Holy Rood Cemetery was established by Holy Trinity Catholic Church in 1832. Originally named Trinity Church Upper Grave Yard for the first three decades of its existence, the first burial there was recorded on April 22nd of the following year.  The cemetery was active from the mid-nineteenth century, when it was enlarged between 1850 and 1870, into the early twentieth century. In the early 1980s, the Holy Rood notified holders of burial rights that it would not accept more burials. But the holders sued, obtaining a consent decree in 1984 that forced it to keep the cemetery open and honor all contracts. A few burials subsequently took place there in the late 1990s, and it still has an occasional burial, making it the oldest active Catholic cemetery in D.C.

When Holy Trinity Church, which was founded by the Jesuits of then-Georgetown College, was transferred to the Archdiocese of Washington in 1942, Holy Rood remained in the care of Georgetown University. Over the years, the university has appeared at times to be a reluctant cemetery owner, skimping on maintenance and fighting with owners of burial plots. In the 1970s the university proposed that the Archdiocese take over the 7,000 graves, but the deal fell apart when the archdiocese proposed to charge the university $2 million. Then in the 1980’s, the university sought to disinter the bodies and remove the graves so that the land could be developed. This was blocked, however, by a legal action brought by the remaining holders of burial rights.

Georgetown University continues to reluctantly oversee the cemetery, which today reflects years of disuse and neglect. Many of the tombstones are toppled, damaged or overgrown, and grass and weeds grow up through large cracks in the lone asphalt walkway leading through it. The deplorable condition of the cemetery today is particularly unfortunate in light of the history contained within it.

Unlike Capitol Hill’s Historic Congressional Cemetery, there are no known famous politicians or dignitaries buried in Holy Rood Cemetery. Most of the graves hold Catholic hoteliers, butchers, laborers, maids, war veterans, mothers who died in childbirth, victims of the 1918 influenza epidemic and many others. However, it also includes the graves of as many as 1,000 Catholic free and enslaved African Americans, and may be the best-documented slave burial grounds in the greater D.C. area. Unfortunately, most are in unmarked graves or were buried with wooden markers that rotted away many years ago. Georgetown University libraries maintain the burial records, but if restoration of the cemetery does not occur soon, there may be little left to which the records can be matched.

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Statue of Jan Karski

Statue of Jan Karski

There is a wide variety of different statuary throughtout D.C.   From Presidents and foreign leaders, to historic figures and other prominent people, most of the statues tend to be very formal in nature, with the subject overtly posed in a manner to invoke power, authority and significance.  It is for this reason that I took particular notice of the informal yet distinguished nature of the statue of Jan Karski located next to White-Gravenor Hall on the campus of Georgetown University, at 37th and P Streets in northwest D.C. (MAP).

Born Jan Kozielewski in Łódź, Poland in 1914, he grew up in a multi-cultural neighbourhood, where the majority of the population was then Jewish.   He was raised a Catholic and remained so throughout his life.  In 1942 and 1943, Karski was a Polish World War II resistance movement fighter.  He became a liaison officer of the Polish underground who infiltrated both the Warsaw Ghetto and a German concentration camp and then, risking death many times, reported the first eyewitness accounts of the Holocaust to the Polish government in exile and the Western Allies.

It seems particularly relevant to be writing today about one of the first and most important people to bring forward information about the Holocaust, because today is Yom HaZikaron laShoah ve-laG’vurah, or Holocaust and Heroism Remembrance Day.  Also known colloquially as Yom HaShoah, it is a national memorial holiday in Israel for commemoration for the approximately six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust as a result of the atrocities committed by Nazi Germany, as well as to honor the Jewish resistance during that period.

After the war Karski entered the United States and began his studies at Georgetown University, where he earned a Ph.D in 1952.  In 1954, Karski became a naturalized citizen of the U.S.  He taught at Georgetown University for 40 years in the areas of East European affairs, comparative government and international affairs, rising to become one of the most celebrated and notable members of its faculty.

He occasionally but infrequently would share his wartime experiences and efforts to warn the world of the Holocaust with students, but Karski said little publicly about his efforts due to the haunting memories of what he had witnessed and thoughts that he had been a failure for not being able to stop it.   Decades later, however, he began to speak about it in interviews and documentaries, and as a result returned to public consciousness.  He subsequently received long-overdue honors, including honorary citizenship in Israel and Poland’s highest civilian honor, the Order of the White Eagle.  He was also nominated for the Nobel Prize and formally recognized by the United Nations General Assembly shortly before his death.  And posthumously, he was awarded the U.S.’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.  Despite all of the awards and recognition he received, he remained uncomfortable with public attention for the remainder of his life.

In the statue memorializing him, Karski is depicted life size, casually seated on a park bench with his legs crossed and holding a cane in his hands.  There is a chess board on the bench next to him with a game in progress.  Karski was an avid chess player and was reported to be in the middle of playing a game when he died in 2000.  Karski is depicted gazing off to his right, away from the board, as though he were contemplating his next move, or perhaps something more significant.

Other casts of the statue are located in New York City at the corner of 37th Street and Madison Avenue (renamed as Jan Karski Corner), as well as on the campus of Tel Aviv University in Israel, and in Kielce, Łódź and Warsaw in Poland.

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Statue of John Carroll at Georgetown University

John Carroll was born in 1735, and grew up to become the first Roman Catholic bishop and archbishop in the United States, serving as the ordinary of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.  He founded the first diocesan parish in the country, St. John the Evangelist Parish of Rock Creek (now Forest Glen), located in Montgomery County, Maryland.  And he also oversaw the construction of the first cathedral in the United States, the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which is located in Baltimore and is where he was buried in 1815.

Among these and his many other accomplishments, John Carroll is also known as the founder of Georgetown University, the oldest Catholic university in the United States.  Carroll was a supporter and advocate for education, which for him included a focus on the education of the faithful, providing proper training for priests, and the inclusion of women in higher education.  Based on this, a number of other educational institutions have also been named after him, including: Archbishop Carroll High School here in D.C.; The John Carroll School, a private college-preparatory Catholic high school in nearby Bel Air, Maryland, and; John Carroll University in Ohio.

To honor Carroll, a bronze statue honoring him sits prominently inside Georgetown University’s front gates, in the traffic circle in front of Healy Hall (MAP).  Fund raising for the statue to honor Carroll began in 1909, with the grand unveiling ceremony planned for May 4, 1912.  A number of prominent political and public figures were scheduled to make speeches at the unveiling ceremony, including the Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, who had graduated from Georgetown in 1860.  Others scheduled to participate included the Attorney General (who was representing President Howard Taft), the Speaker of the House, and the Cardinal of the Washington Diocese.  Unfortunately, after the final plans for the ceremony had been made and the invitations had been sent out, the foundry notified the university that the statue would not be ready in time.  Deciding not to postpone the ceremony, Georgetown officials ordered a plaster cast of the statue, which was then painted (in similar fashion to the statue for D.C.’s Maine Lobsterman Memorial).  The plaster copy of the statue was then duly unveiled in front of thousands.  Years later, Brother James Harrington, who was in charge of workmen on the Georgetown campus at the time, revealed the deception.  Harrington recalled, “Weeks later, in the dead of night, today’s bronze statue was substituted for the spurious one and no one was the wiser.”

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The Exorcist Stairs

On M Street in the upscale Georgetown neighborhood of D.C., directly across the street from the Key Bridge, are what’s referred to as the “Exorcist Stairs” (MAP).  The base of the stairs is right next to the Exxon station across from the bridge.  Climb the 95 steps to the top and you’ll reach Prospect Street where you’ll find the red brick “Exorcist House” a few steps away at 3600 Prospect Street.

Made famous in “The Exorcist,” the 1973 classic horror movie about demonic possession written by Georgetown University alumnus William Peter Blatty, the dark, narrow stairs are a part of the movie’s climactic scene in which a Jesuit priest rids himself of the devil by hurling himself out the window of a house and down the steeply sloped stairs to his death.  The stone steps at the end of M Street, were padded with 1/2”-thick rubber to film the death of Father Karras. The stuntman tumbled down the stairs twice. And during filming, Georgetown University students charged people around $5 each to watch the stunt from the rooftops.

I rode to the spooky stairwell to see them for myself.  They’re not nearly as scary in the daylight as they are within the context of the movie.  But they’re worth a quick visit, if only to be able to say you’ve done it.

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