Tag Archives: Moon Landing

It’s a Conspiracy

4 Mar

This semester, one of my fellow history teachers is offering a cool class on conspiracies in American history. I wish I could sit in on the course because he covers conspiracies from different eras and explains why people have been attracted to the theories during those times. It is interesting to hear his students talk about the subjects they cover in class and the assignments that he gives them. I can tell that they are having a lot of fun and learning along the way.

A few days ago, a couple of students were in my office talking and explained that each of them have been given a specific conspiracy to research and write about. As one talked about their assignment, I said that I had been there. Then, the other one talked about their assignment, and I have been there as well. Finally, one of them said that I must be the one behind all of the secrets because my travels have made me a common denominator. We laughed, but I began to think, “Damn, I have been to a lot of these places.”

With that in mind, here is a list of the places I have been lucky enough to visit that are connected to some vast conspiracy.

Cape Canaveral – One of the coolest tours anywhere, you can get a upclose view of the launch pads used from the 50s to the present. It is amazing to take a journey through the technological changes. What makes this prime conspiracy territory? Ask any moon landing skeptic, and they will tell you that these launches didn’t go anywhere. The astronauts were walking around somewhere in the desert.

Mount Rushmore – Actually, I didn’t know a conspiracy surrounded this monument until I watched an episode of Brad Meltzer’s Decoded. I thought the only conspiracy involving this place was by the people who made that stupid National Treasure: Book of Secrets movie. However, Meltzer’s minions looked into the possibility of the mount paying homage to racial purity. I don’t know about that, but I know that the Black Hills were the sacred land of the Sioux. The fact that it is now a tourist trap is conspiracy enough.

Roswell – In 1947, a UFO crashed near this New Mexico town, and the government has been covering up the incident ever since. It must be true because there is a museum dedicated to it with a lot of cool exhibits.

What? You didn’t know Bigfoot is an alien?

Then, you probably didn’t know that they have real recreations of alien autopsies.

Actually, the museum is interesting and has an extensive collection of UFO videos, research and writings.

Memphis – I wrote in a recent post about my visit to the National Civil Rights Museum, built on the site of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination.

This conspiracy springs from the idea that a petty criminal like James Earl Ray could not have shot King and escaped to Europe without help. Ray fed this idea with his insistence that he was working with a man named Raoul. I have also wondered how Ray got away but had my questions answered after reading Hellhound on His Trail: The Stalking of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the International Hunt for His Assassin.

Dallas – The granddaddy of all conspiracy theories is based around the assassination of John F. Kennedy at Dealy Plaza. Most people probably believe that Lee Harvey Oswald did not act alone. Some say it was the mafia. Others say it was the Cubans, the Russians, or even the vice president. I don’t know about any of that, but I believe this conspiracy lingers for a couple of reasons.

First, a president, Abraham Lincoln, was actually the victim of a conspiracy.

Second, a visit to Dealy Plaza leads people to believe that something else must have happened. Walking around the grounds, it just makes sense that the gunman was on the grassy knoll and not in a window on an upper floor of a building. It is difficult to describe the area, but everyone should take a look for themselves. I must admit that of all the conspiracies this is the one I come closest to believing.

There you have it. The list of conspiratorial places that I have visited. I promise that this doesn’t make me the Cigarette-Smoking Man from The X-Files. Where’s my proof? If I was, then the following would happen.

Derek Dooley would resign as the head football coach at Tennessee, and the team would never lose another game.

I would win the lottery.

People would be breaking the law when they throw chewing gum on the ground.

I would win every hand of Blackjack.

All of us bloggers would be world-famous.

Boarding Mr. Peabody’s WABAC Machine

7 Dec

When I was a kid, “The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show” was shown in reruns, and I would often catch an episode or two. It wasn’t my favorite show by any means because Bullwinkle always drove me crazy. I think it was his voice, but it could have been any aspect of his goofy self. However, I was fascinated by Mr. Peabody and his WABAC Machine and the idea of going back to witness historic events. Obviously, I was a weird child to like the time-traveling, talking dog over the goofy, talking moose. Through the years as a historian, I keep going back to Mr. Peabody and thinking how cool it would be to actually be present at historic events. I have even been known to mention the WABAC Machine in class. I know the students have no idea what I am talking about, but they aren’t usually listening anyway.

Of course, time travel, as we know through countless references in popular culture, has it drawbacks. We could alter the course of history and change the world as we know it. That’s why I favor the “duck blind” method from “Star Trek”. Use a force field to hide a viewing station in the natural terrain. If walking about is needed, then use an individualized force field for hiding a protection. See, problem solved. All you have to do is combine the worlds of Mr. Peabody and Mr. Spock, and the problem is solved.

So, if I could board Mr. Peabody’s WABAC Machine to travel to a “duck blind” from “Star Trek”, then these are the historic events I would venture to see.

1. Montana Territory, 1876 – George Custer and the 7th Cavalry find their way to the banks of the Little Big Horn River. There they find Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse and hundreds of Sioux and Cheyenne warriors. The Battle of Little Big Horn does not end well for Custer and his men, but for the Native Americans it is a classic case of winning the battle and losing the war. After the defeat of one of America’s most famous soldiers, the U.S. Army makes it a point to bring an end of the Indian Wars. The battlefield is my favorite historic site, as I can sit on the hill and sense the history around me. It is probably the markers that designate the places where soldiers fell (although inaccurately) that make the battle easy to track over the terrain.

2. Dayton, Tennessee, 1925 – As a publicity stunt, leaders of Dayton arrest John Scopes of breaking a new law disallowing the teaching of evolution in public schools. The stunt gets out of hand when two of the nation’s most famous lawyers. William Jennings Bryan and Clarence Darrow, agree to fight it out in court over the difference between the creation story of the Bible and the theories of Darwin. It must have been a fascinating scene as a circus atmosphere descended upon the town. I love teaching about the Scopes Monkey Trial and have even taken a group of students to the actual courtroom to discuss it. I am amazed that 86 years later we are still fighting over the same issue.

3. The Moon, 1969 – Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first people to walk on a celestial body that was not Earth. This is the greatest achievement in human history. Watching the astronauts leave the capsule and walk around would have been a literal other-worldly experience. Also, viewing this event as it happened would prove to the skeptics that it wasn’t faked. Next semester, one of our history professors is offering a class on conspiracy theories and why people latch on to them. You would be amazed at the amount of students who do not believe that the truth is known.

4. Maryville, Tennessee, 1974 – This event is on a more personal level. My dad used to sponsor a men’s slow pitch softball team, a hobby for which he was inducted in the Tennessee Softball Hall of Fame. His teams won 10 state championships, but the first came in 1974 against the Number 1 ranked team in the nation. Actually, I was there, but I do not remember it. I was 4 years old at the time. The game was close and came down to a diving catch for the last out. I would like to go back for several reasons. First, I would like to watch the game. Second, I would like to see my dad and all of the people who I know as they looked in 1974. Third, I would like to see what I was doing as a 4-year-old.

Those are my WABAC wishes. If I really had a machine, then I would go to those events first. Of course, I would not be able to stop there and would get addicted to the travel. I would also probably start messing up the timeline. Where would you go if you had access to the WABAC Machine?