Why Are Monuments Important?

I have been thinking about this for quite some time now–probably since I returned to Fauquier County two years ago March.

A few observations about Our Fine County, and from where it has come:

As a child, I spent many a Friday Night going around in circles at Hugo’s Skateway in southern Fauquier.  I remember well the controversy and kerfuffle over the debate to ALLOW black kids admission.  To the roller rink. 

I remember well, the then Belvoir Restaurant (now El Agave) making statewide news for refusing to allow blacks to be seated or served.  One of the legends is, Jim Vance of Channel 4, NBC DC came out to interview the owner.  During the interview, a light rain began to fall.  Vance made a motion to continue the interview inside, out of the rain.  The owner told him (a fine, eloquent, well educated, conservative, upstanding, brilliant Man among Men), “you ain’t comin’ in”.  The story went (mercifully briefly) national. 

I remember when the Fish and Game officer entered Freestate to enforce some such hunting law, and never came out.  (still searching for the linking article for this one–what do you guys remember?)

Yes.  Our county, our state, and our country have had dark times in our past.  Even in my past (and I’m “ONLY” 52!!).  Segregation, racism, Jim Crowe, lynchings, the Klan, and on and on, are a sad part of our collective history.  A history NONE of us are not proud of.  Nonetheless, during those times of discord, there was always a faction that fought that status quo.  That stood up and refused to accept each and every one of those policies (as well as internment, blue laws, not allowing women to vote or own property, and many, many others). 

By honoring the people who lived in those times, we celebrate not the periods of darkness, but the PROGRESS we, as a culture, have made.  We are all able to use statues, monuments, plaques, road and building names as pinpoints in history.  A pinpoint we can use as a yardstick to measure our progress.  And how much more needs improvement.  How are we to know what it was Like, be proud of how far we’ve Come, and judge how far we have YET to go, if we dismiss and erase and eliminate any reference to our past??  Destroying and vandalizing and demanding the removal of statues is nothing short of re-writing history. It is Crucial that we embrace our history–WARTS and All. As George Santayana wisely said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. To covet truth is a very distinguished passion.