There are numerous serious issues facing us all every day: economic disparity; threats of war; racism; women’s rights; and societal polarity. Risking the tag of political correctness, I raise the issue of militarism and aggressive symbolism expressed by the cannons flanking the Civil War Soldier on Keene’s Central Square.
Honoring the memory and the sacrifices of those who fought to preserve the Union from 1861 to 1865, is important and worthy of respect. However, that great conflict is still being fought in many ways, though not with arms. In basic training, back in 1967, I was shocked at being confronted by a fellow trainee from Tennessee who attacked and condemned me as a damn Yankee. Good grief! Sadly, things seem not to have changed enough since that time.
Not sure if it’s true, but I’ve been told that north of the Mason-Dixon line, cannons in Civil War memorials are pointed south; below the Mason-Dixon line, they face north. The Saturday peaceful vigils on Central Square have become on honored tradition in Keene for many years. Kudos to the vigilant demonstrators who stand out there declaring American values in all seasons under all conditions. But isn’t it ironic that those anti-war demonstrations take place in the company of those great cannons?
While Keene has no overriding symbolic statues depicting values of divisiveness, racism or men of dubious honor, it does have the distinction of being Jonathan Daniels’ home. But we also have those cannons out there, pointing south, continuing symbolically a conflict that needs reconciliation. It is time to remove those symbols of conflict and instead work diligently for justice and unity.
42 Cottage St.