Published On: September 29th, 2020

The Mayor of Washington, DC has formed a commission to investigate the statues and monuments in our nation’s capital with the idea of removing or “contextualizing” the person represented if they have a “potentially problematic past.”

Will a “potentially problematic past” prevent us from honoring those who died on 9/11/2001 in the year 2251? That is the number of years between when George Washington became President of the United States and today.

Appropriations for statues and works of art on behalf of the public are difficult to obtain so the fact that an artist created a work of art that is a part of our monument system is significant and tells, in its own way, part of the American story. Applying one-dimensional measures of worth to the past threatens the integrity of the story itself. Miss Constitution hopes that the commission is not a form of “cancel culture” but has as its motive the addition of information that might add to, not denigrate, memorials. Removing monuments of American history, much less allowing mobs to tear them down, is a type of cultural genocide. Adding statues and monuments to expand understanding and perspective is legitimate if done with intellectual integrity.

Just nineteen years after an attack on Western Civilization, New York’s political leaders called off traditional remembrances of 9/11/2001. Will those remembrances be called off as the years go by?

Miss Constitution thinks one of the more sensitive issues is who among the Founders owned slaves. George Washington is the indispensable Father of the Country, not only for his generalship during the American Revolution, but for his conduct and judgment while serving as the first President of the United States. Without him, there would be no United States at all. Washington owned slaves and did not free them until he declared them free in his Will upon his wife’s death. As important as Washington is in our country’s history, Congress declined to make his home, Mt. Vernon, a national park and authorized no funds to obtain it and protect it for the education of future generations. Congress’s failure to acquire Mt. Vernon also tells a story. Why would Congress not think it worth preserving? In ruins by the mid-19th century, Mt. Vernon was saved by a small group of women who purchased it for safekeeping. If one drives twenty minutes out of Washington, DC, the restored Mt. Vernon is one of the nation’s treasures, though still privately owned by the Mt. Vernon Ladies Association. That he owned slaves in the agricultural south in that era should not represent a “problematic past.” George Washington is first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen. He never forgot to honor Unwritten Law, (the courtesies and comity so important between people) nor did he ever shirk his duty in governance or in battle. He honored the Constitution of the United States and its reliance on a Supreme Being. His integrity regarding creating wealth at the expense of the nation was never in question. His word and honor were impeccable. He relinquished power voluntarily. He never ever used his position to further his family’s fortunes or to favor his relatives. Washington struggled to make the farms he owned profitable. Later in life, he created a distillery for Rye Whiskey that finally provided needed cash. He loved his wife and honored all stations of life. When he died, and his former slaves became tenant farmers, they alone took care of Mt. Vernon and gave tours to visitors. Eventually, no one could keep up with its decline and were it not for a few visionary ladies, Mt. Vernon would be lost to us today.

US Capitol Refleting Pool

Capitol Reflecting Pool. Image Credit:

We honor those police and firemen who ran toward the imploding towers on 9/11/2001 in the hopes of saving all they could. Would you be one to do the same?

There are many aspects of America’s past that in hindsight led the nation away from Founding principles. Slavery itself, the decision to annex Hawaii, the decision to annex the Philippines, the decision to go to war against Spain when Spain was ready to concede, are decisions to be studied today. Did Thomas Jefferson have the authority to conclude the Louisiana Purchase? Was the Mexican War justified? And yet Theodore Roosevelt, Thomas Jefferson, and Ulysses S. Grant are honored in statuary and monuments worthy of citizen attention. We honor the Buffalo Soldiers whose presence in the West allowed America’s expansion. It was not without controversy. Our “potentially problematic past” is really just the history of our nation. The story should be true and accurate, not “canceled” or “cleansed”, and should be an ongoing story of how a nation rises to its aspirational values.

Miss Constitution wonders if the history of 9/11/2001 will be revised or “contextualized” to suit an ideological narrative similar to the 1619 project now accepted in the curriculum in many schools. The 1619 narrative is not accurate history and has as its objective the acceptance by children and teachers of a falsely altered American story. Could this also happen with the events of 9/11/2001? Could the story be “revised” to fit an ideological narrative?

Sometimes there are competing civilizations. When Mohammed died in 632 (CE) Islam expanded through Africa and eventually into Spain (711 CE) and then France. Charles Martel is credited with saving Western Civilization in the Battle of Tours in 732 (CE). The end of attacks was thought to have been completed after World War I. For various reasons, America as a successful symbol of Western Civilization was attacked on 9/11/2001 by Islamic extremists. The clash of civilizations goes on. There are others who want the same destruction.

The story of America and its stated ideals is a step by step, incident by incident, ongoing narrative that requires an accurate and full telling long after the living are gone. It is this duty to accuracy, not perfection, in those we choose to honor or notice, that keeps the story straight. Historians might one day conclude that the bravery and honesty of our nation’s response on 9/11/2001 again saved Western Civilization and the hope Western Civilization provides to all humanity. Would Charles Martel have a potentially problematic past?

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    About the Author: Miss C

    M.E. Boyd, "Miss Constitution" is an attorney, author, and instructor in Business, Educational, and Constitutional Law. She has appeared on television and radio and speaks publicly on American history, the founding documents, and current political issues. Her mission is to help citizens understand the Founding philosophies behind the system so that we can-together-help preserve the blessings of liberty and prosperity. Read more about Miss C