This is an artist's rendering of a slave being whipped, I think before cameras were used. Note the similarity between the paddle that O.J. Keller is holding.
Those Tortured As Children Can Never Forget
After Carol Marbin Miller of the Miami Herald broke the Dozier School For Boys Story on October 19, 2008, my phone began ringing off the wall. All were men that had read the story and were suddenly and violently brought face to face with their worst nightmare. Nearly ninety percent had never told anyone, not their wives or any other family or friends. To add to the mystery of their reactions was that most cried, or their voices trembled and cracked. These were men from all walks of life, from military, to homeless. Men that had become successful and those who had never escaped their demons. I listened and took notes and slammed them into a database. When I left for the road in May it was like leaving a long tunnel of darkness and despair and entering once again into the sunshine and the present world.
It was not until four years later that I realized why so many grown men were crying. The line came to me in the murky land between sleep and awakening, so I got up and wrote it down in the darkest hour:
"You can never go back to Dozier as a man in your mind, you can only go back as the helpless child you were."
So this was what I was listening to, grown men that could only speak in very emotional voices of the hurt and damaged children they had been. They were remembering the sounds of screams, the tick of the whip as it touched the ceiling on its way down and pain, images so hurtful, so foreign and terrible, all painted in a backdrop of the color red as their blood ran down their legs. Punishment too severe for those so young. The boys between seven and twelve received the most beatings. All were traumatized for life.
Now over a billion readers know of these things and bodies found in woods so thick they had to be cleared to find them by radar, unmarked and unknown. Some have gone home at last by the tireless effort of Professor Erin Kimmerle and her staff from the University of South Florida. For the families, this was closure after decades of not knowing what had happened to their son or brother or grandchild.
For the remaining whitehouseboys there will be no closure in the proposed destruction of the White House punishment building. If it is done they may feel they have attained closure, and leave feeling as if they have been vindicated but that will fade away all too soon and they will go right back to the damaged person they are. I felt as they do once but realized the demons of Dozier are carved in our bone, flesh, and minds. Destruction is not the answer. It would only be a selfish act and take away the only thing we do possess and that is this story. The story, started by chance, or God if you will so believe, is more important than us all. He took the worst of the worst and the best of the best, to find those boys and send a warning for the future.
The most selfless act we can do is to see that building of torture and pain remains as a Traumascape, so that it stands for decades for all to visit and realize that the unthinkable can happen when you think you are living in an enlightened world. Decades cannot hide all things. What happened to us is still going on behind closed doors.
The land should be returned to the citizenry, the young people deserve a second chance as they are innocent. A story this big needs a grand ending. To let this story close with destroying the WhiteHouse would be an act of weakness instead of a strong and enduring statement that would bring change to Florida's negative image of sweeping things under the rug. The Florida Cabinet was behind us and millions want to see the ending. So let us set an example to the rest of the United States and those in other countries, leave this reminder so others may learn to do the same.
Author Maria Tumarkin: "In the world we inhabit, traumascapes are everywhere. Traumascapes are a distinctive category of place, transformed physically and psychically by suffering. "Traumascapes hold the key to our ability to endure and find meaning in modern day tragedies and the legacies they leave behind."
Despite the pain this story has made the whitehouseboys face, we are blessed for we have taken a leap of faith, knowing or unaware, that this is our legacy for the wayward children to come, may their journey be better than ours........R. Straley