So one of the favorite parks of rescue dogs Lily and Lulu is a few miles up the road, and was named after the man who dedicated it to the city over a hundred years ago. It is a favorite because there is a paved pathway through the park, lightly shaded with thousands of long leaf pines. There is a fenced dog park, a couple of ball fields, playgrounds, a waterpark and picnic shelters. It has been refreshing to see all these offerings enjoyed again, after the severe lockdown.
We visited this park recently. There is an ornate wrought iron archway at the entrance proclaiming the name of the park, up to now, the gentleman who donated the land.
Not any more.
It is now called Long Leaf Park. I suppose this is ok, but why did they change it? My supposition is because the man who dedicated it was a son of the confederacy and, regardless of who he fought for or against, it was apparently a reminder of that particular time in America’s history which is in process of being erased.
I have parts of my own personal life I am not particularly proud of. I won’t erect monuments to them, but they are going to be a part of my memory my entire life. Thankfully I have learned from these things and moved on. Onward and upward as my mother would say.
So why can this country not understand that monuments, statues and national parks are also reminders of, not who we are, but our growing pains? People we have grown from, not who we are or will become?
As a people we are not born finished products. We learn. We grow. We change, develop and (we hope) become better. The statues and monuments are not to celebrate what happened but to remind us of where we were but aren’t anymore. We can’t forget our history. The descendants of those who suffered from it should be grateful their forebears survived and became stronger. Anything less is mere bitterness. Where justice resulted we as a nation need to be humbled for what we overcame.
It’s said those who forget the past are doomed to relive it (attributed to Edmund Burke, among others). I for one prefer to move forward from some things that happened in America’s history as well as my own personal history. I look toward a day when justice is greater than injustice. But we won’t find it by being angry instead of proud that we have come through difficult times, nor by erasing reminders of our past.