Did You Know This About Geary County History?
By Dr. Ferrell Miller
Geary County Historical Society Board Member
It has been 18 years since our nation was attacked on September 11, 2001. It will be a day when many of us will remember exactly where we were and what we were doing when we first heard the news. Terrorists deliberately flew two planes with passengers on board into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City; a third plane into the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. and a fourth crashed in a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. In today’s article, the GCHS staff has shared some of their memories about where they were and what they were doing on that day.
Heather Hagedorn, our Curator was in the seventh grade in Mr. Fair’s history class at Fox River Grove Middle School in Illinois. Students were getting ready to watch a movie in class, when Heather and her classmates observed teachers talking quietly about “something” that had happened. Students had not been told and were curious. Since the school was 40 miles from Chicago, the school was put on a “Red Alert”, which meant they were on lock down and would not be permitted to leave the school.
Jennifer Dixon, our Director of Programs and Education, was living in Germany where her husband had been assigned. She watched the television as the second plane hit the Twin Towers. She stated that a German native who lived near them, but didn’t speak English, went around the neighborhood showing a newspaper article with pictures and gave each of the wives in the housing area a rose. Jennifer said “every car going on Post was inspected to include the use of mirrors to look under vehicles for any explosive devices.”
Katie Goerl, our Executive Director, stated that she and her classmates were not allowed to watch the television. The teachers told students about the attacks and there was some discussion, but the emphasis was to keep the day as normal as possible. After school Katie went to a friend’s house and then later went home. When she arrived home, Katie’s mother told her she was glad Katie was safe. Katie responded with “Of course, I am safe, we live in Kansas.”
Even if you were not alive in 2001, we hope you will take a moment to reflect on the day of 9/11/01 and join us in thanking those who keep us safe today and every day.
“Mayor George Patton – Really?”
The information in today’s story comes from an article written by Gaylynn Childs, retired Executive Director at our Museum and may be found on page 296 of the book Set In Stone. She wrote that “during the closing days of WWII, General George S. Patton, Jr. made a statement which brought Junction City, Kansas to the attention of the nation and the world. There was an article published in the Saturday Evening Post in June of 1945 that the famous and flamboyant military hero announced to the world that the only political ambition he’d ever had was to be the Mayor of Junction City.
The Junction City “Union” newspaper reported that the people believed “he would be a cinch for the job anytime he cared to toss his five-star-studded helmet into the ring.”
In another report in the local newspaper, the City Commission had decided to facilitate Patton’s wish to be the Mayor of Junction City. There was a meeting held in special session at which Mayor Roy More stated he would consider it a privilege to step down for such a famed and illustrious individual. More submitted his resignation to take effect as soon as the General qualified and was ready to take the oath of office.
Notification was sent to General Patton, who responded on July 3, 1945. General Patton wrote: “Dear Mr. Mayor: Thanks very much for your telegram. However, my political aspirations are not exactly as stated in the Saturday Evening Post. What I said was that the only political position which I could consider would be Mayor of the town where I had spent so many years, namely, Junction City. However, as you well know my statement was from the heart and not from the head. With all good wishes to you and your city. I am, Most Sincerely, G.S. Patton, Jr. General U.S.A.”
General Patton knew about Junction City, because while he was on duty at Fort Riley Patton actually lived in Junction City in the house at Third and Jefferson Streets. That house is now owned by St. Xavier’s Catholic Church and was used as the home for the nuns that taught at the Catholic School. He also attended the Episcopal Church of the Covenant at 314 North Adams Street. There is an inscribed plate on the pew in which General Patton frequently sat during the worship services.