What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other word would smell as sweet
– Romeo and Juliet, Act II, Scene 2.
Dallas ISD trustees recently named a building for World War II Medal of Honor winner 1Lt. Turney Leonard. This is perhaps deserved, but not remarkable. It did agitate, however, the little gray cells, as one Belgian detective was fond of saying.
I find myself shifting my position on the names of public buildings and parks across the Southland.
You do not have to be much of a history student to understand how the names of Confederate heroes and statues to their memory were created after Reconstruction as an “in your face” gesture by the Civil War’s losers against the winners. These tokens of defiance and stubborn devotion to the Lost Cause perhaps stirred memories and hearts, but after 150 years, the magic wears thin.
It may well be time for some changes. After all, doesn’t each generation have a right to claim its own heroes? I certainly don’t want to remove statues from the Courthouse lawn or rip the facings off schools, but a name change here and a park renamed there for someone more contemporary, but no less praiseworthy, seems like a good idea to me.
Of course, there are those who would prefer to swing their wrecking ball in all directions rather than take a selective approach. The wacko left is no where more visible than in Austin.
The left wingnuts now want to change the name of the Texas capitol from Austin. In a fit of full Claude Rains indignation, the lefties are shocked, shocked to learn Stephen F. Austin owned slaves.
I am certainly not condoning nor apologizing for slavery. Much of the ills experienced today in this country can be traced to that abominable practice and our reluctance to confess our error. I think we are still in the period of atonement Lincoln cited in his Second Inaugural Address.
This Taliban-like jihad to erase history and pillor those who helped shape and lead this country for more than 200 years because they failed to be clairvoyant or perfect by today’s standards does not serve the nation.
The would-be name-changers also overlook Austin’s contribution to the Union cause, which is tricky, since he died before the Civil War began.
Some of you may find Austin’s story of interest. When Stephen was a college freshman in Lexington, Ken., he fell in love with Elizabeth. Unfortunately, Moses Austin (Stephen’s father) ordered young Austin home after the freshman year to help with the family lead mine in Missouri.
Stephen reluctantly left Lexington, but first asked his best friend Bobby to look after Elizabeth. Bobby really took his mission seriously. Bobby and Elizabeth were soon married. Stephen never married, although there were one or two opportunities as he traveled through Southwest Arkansas, New Orleans, Texas and Mexico.
Bobby and Elizabeth had a daughter they named Mary. History remembers her as Mary Todd. She would wed Abraham Lincoln.
Some familiar with the marital relationship of the Lincolns may question what aid this gave the Union, but either as a supporting spouse or the source of constant complaint that kept the President at the telegraph office all night running the war Mary Todd played her part.
And by default, so did Stephen F. Austin.
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