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Letter: Who Knows Better?

To the Editor:

Regarding the Freedmen’s Cemetery sculpture controversy: a card laid is a card played. After the final designs were chosen, I remember that the public was asked to vote for the winner. It seems that only after the Dwight submission was chosen did the Public Arts Committee decide it was inappropriate. Is this another example of a few people telling the public that we know better than you what is right for our city?

If the religious symbols were not noticeable enough to disqualify the proposed statue originally, they should not be invoked as a reason to rule the choice ineligible now.

More to the point, why did city officials prohibit religious symbols on sculpture meant for a cemetery? The First Amendment provides that “Congress shall make no law concerning the establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” The second part of the amendment is too rarely noted. Of course, public cemeteries funded by taxpayer monies such as nearby Arlington are full of marble crosses atop graves; they also include religious symbols for other faiths as the families wish.

City Council should revoke its mistaken approval of the replacement statue based on the recommendations of the Public Arts Committee and honor the wishes of the citizens who voted for the Dwight sculpture.

Somebody surely owes sculptor Ed Dwight a huge apology, no matter the final outcome of this matter.

Ellen Latane Tabb

Alexandria