Down the Memory Hole
In George Orwell's novel "1984," he describes a solution for handling unpleasant historic facts—toss them down the "Memory Hole." Now Baltimore is about to dispose of some important historic facts about our city in the same manner. I'm the great-granddaughter of a Civil War veteran* and have no fondness for the Confederacy and what it represented. Nevertheless, upon moving to Baltimore two decades ago, I was amazed to learn that the state of Maryland and Baltimore in particular were dangerously divided on secession. The "first blood" of the Civil War was shed on Pratt Street and the instigators of the murderous riot were Southern sympathizers hoping to impede federal troops from reaching Washington. Wisely, President Lincoln put Baltimore under martial law and clamped down on all further protests. If you look at a map, had Maryland joined the Confederate States of America, the capital would have been surrounded. Our city was indeed an historic fulcrum!
It would be so much better if these works of art might be used to teach about the past. In fact all public war artwork should serve this purpose. I also was surprised to learn the Lee-Jackson monument was the work of a woman, artist Laura Gardin Fraser. I'm not familiar with the statue, but will visit it before it is dismantled or destroyed.
Last week three letter writers (The Mail, Jan. 20) to your paper hailed the Commission's decision to remove two Confederate statues, what cheerleaders for truth they must be! (Sarcasm intended) Unfortunately the Special Commission failed to discuss a budget to "remove, destroy or ceremoniously melt down" these very large objects. I'm hoping the Baltimore Office of Promotion and Arts won't be asked to pay for this cost, and taxpayers definitely must not be required to foot the bill. Whatever method is used to do away with these objects, it must be funded privately—perhaps the National Parks Service could pay to have the Lee-Jackson monument become part of its historic Chancellorsville venue. Regarding Taney, that's up for grabs.
Finally, Baltimore City should designate a commission to find an artist to design a "Memory Hole" replica. Thereby we can have a ritualistic way to dispose of inconvenient historic truths.
Rosalind Ellis Heid
*Great-granddaughter of Henry Bell, 15th New York, Engineers (Company L)
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It is good to hear positive things about Baltimore from outsiders or people that have moved here. I am born and raised in Baltimore and will always love my city. People that have bad things to say about our city and the people in it are always the most closed-minded, non-cultured people who have never actually took a stroll down the streets of one of our hoods, have never had a real conversation with someone that is not as privileged.
I had a life-changing exprience when I helped partake in the Freddie Gray protest marches. While the rest of the world was watching the news publicize Baltimore in a bad light, showing the violence and rioting, I and my other fellow citizens were on the streets cleaning up our mess and trying to unite the community together to get out a message out. I am a white girl from the county who has had a pretty easy life growing up, and even when I was totally out of my element (and definitely looked like it) walking through Sandtown-Winchester, I was surprised to feel very welcome. Instead of me feeling scared, threatened, or being told I don't belong there or to go back from where the media came from, I was greeted by many and was made to feel very welcome. The citizens from Baltimore really just cared and made feel so welcome. One person even stopped me and thanked me for coming down and showing support. Many people stopped me and asked to read my sign. We talked and gave our opinions. Children were giving out free water. Strangers were holding hands. Everybody was showing love. Everyone was wanting—wanting better for their city.
The harbor, the bay--Baltimore is great. GO RAVENS! GO O's!
—"Pamela Ferger," Jan. 22
I really liked reading this. I will always love Baltimore, even if it is a complex sort of love and, admittedly, my love now is one of nostalgic glossing over of some of the issues. Still, it is an amazing and vibrant city in many ways.
—"Paul Truman," Jan. 24