Our stories, on Vashon, will see us through

History has its eyes on us, and thanks to Vashon, we at The Beachcomber are not throwing our shot.

  • Thursday, July 16, 2020 6:03pm
  • Opinion

Over the July 4 holiday weekend, millions of giddy theater fans tuned in to the streaming platform, Disney+, to watch a filmed version of the blockbuster musical “Hamilton.”

The evening of television didn’t disappoint, capturing all of the jaw-dropping intensity and artistry of the Broadway show about America’s founding fathers, as re-envisioned by Lin-Manuel Miranda and a cast of hugely accomplished Black and brown actors and dancers.

Almost all the songs in “Hamilton” are head-stickers, but one of the most memorable, at the end of the show, is titled “Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story.”

Its lyrics ask the poignant questions, “And when you’re gone, who remembers your name? Who keeps your flame? Who tells your story?”

These words have extra resonance in the endurance contest that 2020 has become, with the finish line nowhere in sight. And just perhaps, they might even fit the theme of this week’s issue of The Beachcomber.

On these pages, you’ll find an article about a new local art project that seeks to memorialize Black victims of racism, showing their full humanity and all that was lost when they died.

You’ll also learn here about the latest activities and programs of The Vashon Food Bank — an organization that is more important than ever in a town where almost one-quarter of our workforce is unemployed. The way that islanders step up now to support the food bank and expand its offerings means everything to the families who depend on it for their daily bread.

But that’s not all.

On our arts pages, we’ve reviewed Vashon Fire District’s 2019 annual report, which recently arrived in islanders’ mailboxes in the form of a spectacular little graphic novel, filled with true-to-life tales of our community’s superhero first responders.

Also in the arts section, there is a thoughtful and extremely well-written column by a 10-year-old island girl named Willa Lee, who thinks newspapers are important. She knows they are places where important stories — like her own, about being a child in the time of coronavirus — are told. Willa, we hope you will write for us again.

A reckoning with history unfolds on this week’s opinion pages, as commentary writers Bruce Haulman and Steven Macdonald present readers with an opportunity to reconsider the legacy of Lt. William Lewis Maury, for whom our own Maury Island is named. As we learn the true biography of Maury and his service to the Confederate Navy, we can’t help but wonder, why was it never made clear to us before that he fought to preserve the unspeakable practice of enslaving other human beings?

We are grateful to Macdonald and Haulman for shining a light on Maury’s dark past, and to all the other writers and community members who have helped us so much in recent months to tell this island’s stories, past, present and future.

Rick Wallace, of the Emergency Operations Center, has contributed the weekly situation report from the EOC to The Beachcomber, supplying vitally important public health information to the community.

Susan Riemer, our former colleague at the paper, has kept us supplied with news from Vashon Island School District.

Steffon Moody, a supremely talented Vashon artist, has taken on the mantle of being our political cartoonist — bringing his wicked wit and precision drawing to our opinion pages.

Karen Biondo, a farmer, chef and food activist, now writes a delightful regular column about the farmers on the island.

Kathryn True, Deborah H. Anderson and Lesley Reed — all wonderful writers —have also contributed articles in recent weeks, while Christine Beck, of Vashon Island Visual Artists (ViVA), has supplied a steady stream of artist profiles to the paper.

And in a time when we have all needed insight and inspiration, we’ve been so grateful to publish thoughtful commentaries from a who’s who of Vashon thinkers and leaders — Trish Millines Dziko, Michael Meade, Leslie Brown, Shane Jewel, Janie Starr, Art Chippendale, Renee Hensen, Susan McCabe, Suzanne Greenberg, Kevin Jones, Wendy Noble, Eric Pryne, Paul Mitchell, Celina Yarkin, Sarah Colvin, Mike Ivaska, Nancy Leonhardt, and Elaine Ott-Rocheford.

To paraphrase two more “Hamilton” song titles, history has its eyes on us, and here at The Beachcomber, thanks to this kind of community involvement, we are not throwing our shot.

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