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Monument would honor EC's war effort

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Sunday, March 11, 2018

It’s not about them, it’s about us. The Allied monument is creating a divisive kerfuffle and is taken by some as a tribute to bad guys, which it’s not. Fact is, it’s about a period in our town’s history of which we should all be proud.

Looking back, Elizabeth City contributed a lot to the war effort. During the war the shipyard expanded from 50 to 600 people and turned out 30 sub chasers. The Navy base (that would later become a Coast Guard base) expanded, seaplanes, blimps and torpedo planes based here patrolled sea lanes and sank subs. And Allied pilots were trained here. It was a war in which over 400,000 Americans lost their lives.

Think of what that number would have been had Russia not been in the war with us. In this conflict they lost somewhere between 9 million and 11 million people. The Germans were forced to commit more and more troops and equipment to the Eastern Front because of the Russians — forces that Americans did not have to fight. So each Russian pilot trained here may well have saved American lives.

During this time, the stories go that we made them welcome, took them into our homes and met them with a smile and a handshake. This was war and they were our allies. It was maybe one reason we came to be called “The Harbor of Hospitality.”

Since that time the Soviet Union has changed and today it acts badly toward us and many peoples across the globe. While we have no reason to like their leaders or their politics, we should still appreciate what we achieved together.

The monument is not a monument to the U.S.S.R., nor indeed to Britain or the U.S. It’s a statue to mark what went on here, and what Elizabeth City did to help win World War II. It’s a monument to us.

Peter Thomson

Elizabeth City

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