Our City Council, after months of deliberation and public comment, resolved to permanently remove the Lee monument from public property. The name, “Lee Plaza,” will likely be changed also.
This doesn’t imply condemnation. It simply creates an accurate public message applying a simple principle: Those people known for exceptional, positive contributions to our society, country and humankind are honored through monuments or the naming of significant public places. Did the Confederacy and the people who energized it, make significant, positive contributions? Clearly, most people in this country, and in the world, think not.
This is personal for me, having gone to Lee Junior High and Jefferson Senior High School in the late 50's and early 60's. I recall assemblies when the pep band, or at least someone with a trumpet, played “Dixie” and we all stood. During this time, the monument to General Lee was placed.
Our schools were still segregated, Confederate flags were often seen at public events and my school history lessons still leave me feeling ripped off.
Nightly news included scenes of peaceful demonstrators seeking nothing more than the vote being attacked with clubs, firehoses and dogs. Cowardly murders were common. TV ads included guys in doctor’s smocks selling cigarettes. We were killing thousands of Vietnamese while decimating their countryside. We were investing heavily in infrastructure so dependent on fossil fuels, rapid climate change is now upon us, disaster after disaster.
We haven’t yet created a level playing field on which race, class, religion, gender, sexual orientation and other characteristics play no role, but we are working on it. Progress is, as always, painfully slow.
We suffer not from a “broken system,” but our own failure. We have let down our founding fathers. Be informed, support credible news sources, know the difference between expressing your viewpoint and venting anger, because destruction and violence generally weaken public support. Engage with elected officials, use the tools of civil engagement, like petitions, and VOTE.
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