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A Century of Statehood

Nice Job, but What About Hispanics?

IT WAS WITH great interest that I read Friday’s Albuquerque Journal supplement, “New Mexico 100 Years of Statehood,” and in particular the lead article, “From Sea to Statehood” on the 100th anniversary of New Mexico’s statehood and admission into the union of the United States of America.

I found that particular article to be quite interesting, but as a descendent of “the first Spanish-speaking, European settlers” who first explored and settled this region of North America — almost 100 years before the Pilgrims, Plymouth Rock and Jamestown on the East Coast — I would have liked to have seen more Hispanic representation and input into the historical content of the supplement, one which will undoubtedly serve to represent this “Most Hispanic of States” to the outside world going forward.

I would also strongly disagree with the article’s contention that the “Hispanic population” that has resided in “La Nueva Espana” — now “New Mexico” — were and are strictly “Mexicans” rather than “the descendants of the first Spanish-speaking Europeans — Spanish, Portuguese, Germans, English, Italian, Jews and others — who first explored and settled North America in the 16th century and who continue to reside here in present-day New Mexico.”

That’s not to say that there aren’t many Hispanics who live here now that are, in fact, Mexican, but just not all of us. Other than that, well done!


Los Lunas

Stand Up and Show New Mexico Pride

WOW! A TERRIFIC New Mexico centennial magazine arrived with our Journal. This is a treasure that’s exciting to read and relish for years to come. Even the ads were tastefully executed. Congratulations to all contributors. Good job well done! Makes us proud to be New Mexicans.



Let’s Not Forget A Hero of History

I FOUND A glaring omission in the Albuquerque Journal’s statehood publication. It took years of hard work and determination by New Mexicans to bring the statehood bill before President Taft to sign. Chief among these was the “Father of New Mexico Statehood,” Lt. Col. J. (Jose) Francisco Chaves, the president of the New Mexico constitutional convention in 1889, one of the most eminent New Mexicans of his time. Sent east to learn English, medicine and law, he utilized his leadership to bring forth our first state constitution to protect the freedoms of all New Mexicans.

There is the overt racism of name calling, and there is the more insidious and damaging racism of exclusion, suppression and cultural bias. New Mexican children may not learn of JF Chaves in school, but maybe the Journal will run articles on J.F. Chaves and the state’s early constitutions through the centennial year. Look for his bust in the Roundhouse.



Skip the Reminder Of Painful Crimes

THE “NEW MEXICO: 100 Years of Statehood” insert in the Albuquerque Journal was very well done. It highlighted the things we have accomplished in the past 100 years and illustrated how our state has grown. It showcased the unending beauty within our wonderful state. It was a perfect illustration of the celebration of our centennial and made me proud. Until I reached “Cops & Robbers” and “Crimes That Shocked Us.” These entries had no place in an otherwise beautiful publication. Many positive stories could have been written about law enforcement spanning the past 100 years without writing about how criminals have gotten smarter and more violent or showcasing high-profile tragedies. We shouldn’t celebrate crime.

Furthermore, did anyone stop and think about how painful it might be for the families of both victims and perpetrators of these crimes to re-live these events for the zillionth time by having them “commemorated” in this tribute to our state? These families were left in the rubble following these tragedies and do not need constant reminders, year after year after year, of the worst thing that has ever happened to them. For that matter, neither do the rest of us. For them, it must seem like a recurrent nightmare they will never wake up from because no one will let them. So much for these families being able to heal and move on and so much for them being able to join the rest of us in this 100th birthday celebration. Surely, we can do better.



A Lesson That We May Learn Again

GREAT PUBLICATION celebrating our state centennial by the Albuquerque Journal. The Journal centennial magazine lists all governors since 1912, beginning with the great-grandfather of a former girlfriend, Gov. McDonald, a Democrat. The Journal does not note my wife’s great-grandfather, Gov. George Curry, because he was a territorial governor.

There is a political lesson to be learned from Gov. Curry that is applicable to today. A little over 100 years ago, my wife’s great-grandfather, a Republican, quit in disgust before statehood. Gov. Curry was supposed to be the last territorial governor, but he hated the mess in Washington, D.C., and he hated the U.S. president at that time, William Howard Taft.

George Curry, a former military governor of Manila, founder of the State Historical Society and even sheriff of Lincoln County immediately after Pat Garrett, was a man of great integrity. He quit as governor, and he quit his party. He and his friend, Teddy Roosevelt, founded the Bull Moose Party, and Roosevelt ran on that ticket for president of the United States in 1912. There is talk currently on the right of a third-party candidate if Mitt Romney wins the Republican nomination.

If you look at New Mexico history and U.S. history, you will see that the Republican president, Taft, came in third in the election, with the third party coming in second. All the experts seem to believe that only a Republican or Democrat can be elected president.

Will history repeat itself this year? A century has changed our state and our nation, but not that much actually.



Nowhere Is There Light Like Ours

LAST THURSDAY morning I hung up my New Mexico flag where I usually hang the Stars and Stripes on flag days. … Here are a couple more reasons New Mexico is so special, and I tell these stories to my college students so they, too, appreciate where they live, as well!

The Native Americans got it right! Civilizations do not live in places for thousands of years for nothing. People like living in nice places, and there is good reason to appreciate New Mexico — a place that is not new and definitely not Mexico.

We can see forever in New Mexico — 60 miles is the limit because of the curvature of the Earth, so said my pilot father, unless you happen to be on top of a mountain, and then the sky is pretty much the limit.

We proved it to the national press corps, too. In the fall of 1996, the presidential campaign was winding down and one of the biggest rallies of all was when Clinton gave a speech in front of the KiMo Theatre with 35,000 in attendance. I was on the National Press Corps stage as the press bus arrived and they started to set up. Mostly these people were grumpy and tired and not the happiest campers, until one of the camera guys started messing with his light meter and thought it was broken. He asked the guy next to him and that light meter was getting the same reading.

He then started screaming for a local photog and found Jim from the Journal. “What the &*%$ is wrong with my light meter, man?” Jim’s reply: “Nothing, man. We really do have the most amazing light here in New Mexico.”

The National Press Corps went bonkers when they realized they were working in near-perfect studio lighting conditions outside, on Central Avenue in Albuquerque.

It is the Land of Enchantment, no doubt.



Some Things, Alas, Never Do Change

RE: HEADLINE “Doubling Up on Retirement,” “Appalling Personnel Practices Unveiled”:

If we look back on our history as a state, what we have is 100 years of corruption. With all due respect for the current governor’s pledge to rid New Mexico of this plague, good luck, for it will be like a geologist digging through layers of rock. There was an old saying “Poor New Mexico, it’s between Arizona and Texas,” and now poor New Mexico, it’s rotten to the core.