Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Remaining Monuments

As promised, here are the other two Monuments on the far western side of Monument Avenue that I missed in my last post about them.
Maury Monument: I knew nothing of Matthew Fontaine Maury. After a brief amount of reading, it seems he was quite the guy. Although I'm sure being Commander of the Confederate Navy is what landed him on Monument Avenue, that seems to have been a minor accomplishment in his life. However misguided, I appreciate this thirst for science and knowledge and desire to use his mind to benefit his country. Not a bad example.

Arthur Ashe Memorial - The final and furthest west memorial is to tennis great and humanitarian, Arthur Ashe. This one was completed in 1996 after much debate. The Maury Monument had been finished in 1929. That means a full 67 years passed to solidify city impressions on what Monument Avenue stood for. My own opinion is that this is an odd placement for Ashe. He was undoubtedly a GREAT man, and Richmond would be foolish to not celebrate their native son loudly, proudly and prominently. That being said, I don't know that placing him in line with Confederate greats makes the statement that might be intended. I tend to agree with the thought that this spot might have been better served by a Monument to African American Civil War soldiers. It reminds me of the constant debates in DC when a new addition to the National Mall is proposed. I suppose, ultimately, we all have different opinions on what deserves commemoration and how it relates to what has been celebrated in the past and what will be honored in the future.

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