Despite my new pacemaker, yesterday, as I watched video of the Robert E. Lee monument come down, my heart felt broken. Here is the scaffolding during construction in Richmond in 1890. On May 7 as many as 10,000 citizens put their hands on ropes and hauled three large crates a mile and a half to the empty tobacco field above the city now known as Monument Avenue. Inside the crates from the sculptor’s studio in France, the massive statue would soon appear over the skyline of Richmond and become part of the psyche of Virginia. The monument helped the growing perception of Lee as “the Commonwealth’s greatest son. People saved pieces of those ropes the rest of their lives. In Virginia, Lee tributes included the naming of 5 high schools, two elementary schools, an Army base and a university. The Lee mansion overlooking Arlington National Cemetery is a Park Service memorial that draws at least a million visitors a year. (Pictures and some text from an article I saved written by historian Edward Ayers, who teaches at the University of Richmond)
Like Rocky Mount’s monument, both statues are hidden away and still risk complete demolition in the dark of night. In the midst of a budget meeting of the city council, the fate of our monument was decided. This is another example of the devastating highjacking of America.
An Explanation: The reason you find the subject of removing monuments on Main Street is my way of circumventing my Facebook page where I was writing and wanted to use these photographs. I was kicked off before I finished. I would have said, “What the heck just happened?” But in commenting on the tragic Afghanistan withdrawal, at least three time, the same thing happened. It finally dawned on me that certain words trigger the take down. Miss Pollyanna here, was given a dose of reality. It makes things seem all the harder in this fight to save America from itself. Which leads to the next subject.
Why is everything in Rocky Mount so hard? The revitalization of Main Street and beyond continues to be hard! The decorum on the Council, the fostering of racial divide that reins over the Council meetings, make everything hard! The politicalizing of decisions continues to make things hard. The struggle over who will be allowed to buy the commercial buildings, invest in residential housing, who is welcomed and who is not, makes everything hard. The deliberate sabotaging of investment in order to retain control allowing doggy business practices to continue….this makes living in Rocky Mount all the harder. Because we have several people on the Council and in City Management who look through the lens of the past, this view is interjected into the matters at hand during a Council meeting. It should prompt the Mayor, who does have the power to take charge, ask, “What does this have to do with the issue under discussion? We are here representing the taxpayers of TODAY, who all want a good education, safe neighborhoods, decent housing, and to benefit by our deliberations TODAY.”
Stepheny Forgue Houghtlin grew up in Evanston, IL. and is a graduate of the University of Kentucky. She is an author of two novels: The Greening of a Heart and Facing East. She lives, writes and gardens in NC. Visit her: Stephenyhoughtlin.com
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