by Greg Walcher, E&E Legal Senior Policy Fellow
As appearing in the Daily Sentinel
Whenever someone talks about the “good old days,” there is the inevitable question, “good for whom?” America is not perfect, and never was. That’s why they call self-government by ordinary people “the American Experiment.” Every generation tries to come closer to the ideals of the founders, to leave America better for the next generation.
Some mistakes and abuses of the past have long been recognized, especially the mistreatment of Native American tribes, African-American slaves, and other minorities. In 1988 the U.S. government officially apologized for the internment of Japanese-Americans in concentration camps during World War II, sent a $20,000 check to the survivors, and built a memorial in their honor in Washington, D.C.
There has been no such acknowledgment, apology, check, or memorial to another group similarly rounded up and displaced a few years earlier during the Great Depression — because to this day almost nobody knows about it. Yet the displacement (some felt “disregarded”) of hundreds of Virginia’s mountain people, to make way for a national park, left scars that have never fully healed.