Council should support monument
Thursday, March 8, 2018
Like many of you, I was surprised and sad to learn that City Council had voted against erecting a statue to honor an international group of airmen who died while training to defend America and the rest of the world against Nazis and Fascists. While I applaud Mayor Bettie Parker and the members of the council for proceeding with caution and applying great scrutiny to any agreement, I cannot believe that there are any issues that our city leaders, assisted by the U.S. federal government and outside legal counsel, cannot overcome. I hope that all of you reading this will contact the mayor’s office and members of council to voice your support for the memorial. Here’s why I do.
Before I met my wife, I had never heard of Elizabeth City. However, since my first visit in 1999, I have been enamored with this lovely town. Of course I enjoyed meeting the people and seeing the natural beauty, but I was also struck by the rich history of Pasquotank County and the surrounding area. A simple walk around the beautiful downtown can open one’s mind to a greater world. From Virginia Dare and Blackbeard the Pirate to Catfish Hunter and the Wright brothers, Elizabeth City and the North Carolina coastal region have an important history that should be celebrated and proudly shared with the world. Elizabeth City is not just another small southern town; it is a special place where many great things have happened.
The plane that crashed into the Pasquotank River was an American plane that was carrying crew members from various countries. Which countries they came from is not important; only the bravery and self-sacrifice of these men matters. All of them had traveled long distances so that they could undergo dangerous training before going on to risk their lives in an effort to stop Adolf Hitler and his murderous regime. The crash is a reminder of how dangerous aviation was at that time. It is a reminder that military training and preparation can be just as deadly as combat. It is a reminder of the importance of international cooperation. But mostly, it is a reminder to all of us who enjoy the convenience and safety of modern life that we enjoy all of this, not because of what we do, but because of the heroic deeds and self sacrifice of people we have never met and may know nothing about.
To our city leaders, I want to say that I have full confidence in you. I know that you can overcome all obstacles and see this project to fruition. Please add to the beauty of this great city and increase the learning opportunities for all who live here and visit. Although there has been some controversy surrounding this project, once the monument is completed, all citizens of Elizabeth City will have more reasons to feel proud— not only for the role that Elizabeth City played in fighting against tyranny, but also for the efforts and success of our city council in ensuring that this history will not be forgotten.