Thursday, December 19, 2013

Current Affairs: Remains Displaced by Football Field to be Reintered on 12th HS Site

Two days after the Public Hearing to discuss the options regarding reburial of the remains removed from the 12th High School site, Milton C. Johns, PWCo School Board Chairman-at-Large, announced the Board's decision to reinter the remains close to the original cemetery.

It is the decision I was hoping for.  In my opinion, it is a positive step forward, both for PWCS and the Lynn family.

Following is a transcript of Mr. Johns' remarks at the December 18th Meeting of the Prince William County School Board:

     “Before we proceed to the approval of tonight’s agenda, I want to take a moment to make a few comments regarding the issue of the graves that were discovered on the site of the 12th High School.  For those of you who may not have been here on Monday, we had a very productive public meeting on that issue Monday night.  In keeping with the request from our first speaker on Monday, the Pastor of Woodbine Church, the Community seemed to come together.  Speakers put aside differences to recommend positive ways to resolve the issue of where to reinter the remains and artifacts recovered from the site.  We heard from about a dozen speakers, including members of the Lynn family who have a long and storied connection to the site and to this community.   While we don’t have recoverable DNA to prove it, the archaeologists tell us there is strong circumstantial evidence that the Lynns are indeed the descendants of the people who are buried at the site.

     Monday night’s speakers were not unanimous in their recommendations about how to proceed, but there was a strong consensus that the remains and artifacts should not be moved to a cemetery somewhere else, but rather reinterred on the same property where the original graves were located.  Out of respect for that consensus and the sentiment it represents, Dr. Walts and his staff have given the Board a recommendation that includes reburial of remains and artifacts at an appropriate location on the property of the 12th HS as soon as the required permits and agreements can be obtained, possibly within three to six months; the fencing and placement of markers and plaques at that site; its long term maintenance and legal designation as a cemetery site; and the inclusion of paths and access.   The School Board was polled and a majority has agreed to this recommendation.   Of course, all of this is subject to the approval of the County and other agencies and to working out final arrangements with the Lynn family and other interested individuals.

     I hope that these steps will help to heal any wounds that may have been inflicted by the unexpected discovery of the graves or the process that follows.   We are certainly very sorry for the dismay that resulted.  That said, it’s important to note that some folks have seized on this dismay and some may have even distorted facts in an attempt to divide our Community or even to derail plans for the school itself.  Let’s hope that we can all move past such efforts and come together as the Pastor suggested.  We now have a plan that meets the needs of most of the Lynn family members who addressed us as well as many others.  At the same time, it will allow our students to have the school they need for the future as well as a place where they can respectfully remember those who came before."   

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