As a member of the Maryland Military Monuments Commission, I spend a lot of time thinking about monuments and their preservation. This typically means the effects of weather, corrosion, grasses and mold, but this July 4th is different. Today, our monuments are under attack. Many do not even know which monument to attack. Around America, abolitionists, inventors and civic leaders have been defaced because parents and schools have failed and not taught our history and they have not taught American exceptionalism (”Roger B. Taney’s name removed from historic Pearl Harbor ship in Baltimore,” July 1).
American exceptionalism is derided by the liberal as a thought from the past, but it is more alive now than ever before. America is, as Seymore Lipset said, “the first new nation.” From Plymouth Rock until today, we have written upon a blank tablet a history that is built on free people, with free market capitalism, with the right to pray as they see fit, with equal justice under the law, where the individual is sovereign. We have not always been perfect in these pursuits. Mistreatment of Native Americans and slavery are the “original sins” upon our continent. But our Constitution, one of the greatest statements of liberty ever written, does not claim that we are perfect. The goal of our Constitution is to make “A more perfect union.”
Our heroes that are now under attack should be judged not for their worst actions but for their goals and their sacrifices. People need heroes from whom they can learn. People want to do great things so they can be remembered. If you question this, ask why naming rights are so important to a fundraiser. All men have feet of clay. Be reasonable in your assessment of historical figures. What is the most you could have asked from George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt or Ulysses Grant? They gave you a great nation, but it is as an unfinished work. Build on that foundation.
“Be,” as Joseph Warren said, “worthy of yourselves.” Improve our nation but do not destroy our statues for they are the bronze and stone embodiment of the best that we have had.
Alfred Mendelsohn, Reisterstown
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