As some have exercised their Constitutional right to object to the mural in Tyrone’s town hall, I wish to offer an opinion in favor of it.
The objection to the mural, as I understand it, is twofold: First, that the mural, especially the part depicting the Confederate soldier, is personally offensive, and second, that the mural as a whole neither reflects who we are today, nor projects an image of the town conducive to its continued growth and progress.
In the absence of empirical evidence to validate the objection, what we are left with is largely a matter of perspective. But perspectives can have very tangible effects, and therein lies the necessity to treat such matters seriously.
My perspective is different from the objectors’ perspective. My great-grandfather, God rest his soul, was a Confederate soldier and his body lies about a hundred feet from the mural in the cemetery beside the townhall.
He owned no slaves and had no vested interest in the shameful institution of slavery. Nevertheless, had the “Lost Cause” been a successful one, slavery would have continued, at least for the time that it remained economically viable. I think that this is a fair and accurate conclusion.
But I suggest that history cannot be re-written nor its painful aspects ignored, but ought to be remembered with lessons learned.
We honor our Vietnam veterans, not necessarily because we believe the war in southeast Asia was just, but because they answered their country’s call. May we honor our forefathers, like the soldier symbolized in the mural, for the same reason? (For Confederates like my great-grandfather their state was the “country” for which they gave, in many cases, their “last full measure of devotion”). I believe the mural should stay.
The second part of the objection, that the mural does not reflect who we are today, is certainly true, but that was not its intent. Most cities use symbols to represent their historical context. Atlanta’s is the phoenix, a mythical bird rising from the flames of its own destruction, yet another Civil War context. Tyrone’s mural shows a locomotive, symbolizing its founding by Irish railroad workers. They ought to be remembered and honored. Therefore, the mural should stay.
As to the town’s image, obviously nothing displayed in the mural has had any detrimental effect on our economy, progress or growth. On the contrary, we are advancing on every front with prospects increasing almost daily.
Finally, as a life-long resident of Tyrone, except for a few years at school and the Army, and with no confidence that my opinion will prevail, I urge that all voices be heard in this matter, and that when a consensus on the mural is reached, that it be supported wholeheartedly by everyone in keeping with our democratic tradition.
Diversity need not be either divisive or disruptive, and I do not mean to hurt anyone’s feelings, but I believe the mural should stay. It hurts no one, threatens no one and has been a beautiful representation of our town’s honorable beginning for over 20 years.