Opinion: Letter to the Editor: Whom To Honor?

Opinion: Letter to the Editor: Whom To Honor?

Regarding the Appomattox statue, the world is filled with beautiful statues, buildings and public spaces built by tyrants and despots using slave labor and financed with ill-gotten gains. Rome is lovely but would not be so without public places associated with despicable historic characters. Jefferson was a slave owner, but I would never advocate removing the Jefferson Memorial that in my opinion is one of the most beautiful and serene places in all of D.C.

I do not intend to buck the groundswell of public opinion in favor of the Appomattox statue’s removal, even though it does not honor any specific slave-owning leader and honors the service of conscripts, farmers and tradespeople who were led to war by disingenuous politicians touting a States Rights excuse. Nevertheless, it does honor the institution of the slave-owning Confederacy and I will defer to those who believe it should be removed. However, from a purely apolitical urban design standpoint I have to say I like it, it creates a “place” at the intersection of two significant streets in Alexandria and contributes to calming traffic on these two busy thoroughfares. I would prefer to have it replaced with something of similar but more appropriate significance, rather than removed and simply paved over with asphalt.

If it is replaced, what should we replace it with? Possibilities may be statues honoring Frederick Douglass, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Abraham Lincoln or Barack Obama. However, I think a perfect solution would be a memorial to Anita Hill. I don’t know of any statue or monument in her honor (yet). In light of recent revelations, I think her courage decades ago to call out a person of power and challenge his inappropriate actions is worthy of recognition. A memorial to her would be a perfect antithesis to what is dishonorable both north and south, east and west, and honors both the struggle of African Americans as well as the struggle of women of all races against unequal treatment and sexual predation.

Joe Demshar