Will Helena Return Memorial Fountain Gift to Confederate Group?
The Confederate flag has long been a sensitive subject. I grew up in Seattle and never had much exposure or interaction with anybody that felt compelled to fly it or display it. But then I moved to Florida. When it came to the flag, much like you could say for many things in Florida, it was a whole different world. There was such a different feeling on the subject. You would see the flag all over the place on t-shirts, on bumper stickers, flying proudly at NASCAR races, and more. There was even a giant Confederate flag that was once billed as the World's Largest (but then dropped to the second largest.) It flew from a spot that you couldn't miss as you drove up and down the freeway just outside of Tampa.
Of course, you know the tension that exists around the subject of the Confederate flag. But it's always been interesting to me when places that aren't in the south say they're against the flag, but then they'll also have buildings, schools, and statues named after Confederate figures. With race relations taking center stage after the death of George Floyd last year, we saw numerous stories in the news about Confederate statues being removed across the country because of their origins.
Will Helena return an old Confederate gift?
I saw a story today where a Confederate Memorial Fountain was donated to the city of Helena back in 1916 by a group called the United Daughters of the Confederacy. When I read about how the group was asking for the fountain to be returned because Helena removed it from a park and had it in storage, I figured it was maybe taken down last year like so many other statues and monuments were. But it looks like it was actually taken down in 2017 out of fear that it could cause conflict. Since it's just sitting in storage, the donor's letter requested it to be returned because "it's obvious that the memorial is no longer wanted or needed." I guess you can't fault them for asking for it back if there's no plan for it to be put back on display in the future.
What's the holdup in just shipping it back?
I think the most interesting part of the story is that the city of Helena hasn't decided if they'll act on figuring out a decision about returning the fountain. That seems kind of weird, doesn't it? If you don't want it anymore and don't agree with what it stands for, why wouldn't you just get rid of it and return it? It doesn't seem like there should be much effort that has to go into the discussion. If you don't like something, just give it back. It's just like when I was 10 and my friend Lewis gave me a Gobot instead of a Transformer for my birthday. Do like I did, Helena. Just give back the Gobot.