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Seattle Times letters to the editor

July 1, 2014 at 7:05 AM

Capitol Statuary: Responses support keeping current state representatives

I received a number of written responses over the weekend to a callout by editorial writer Jonathan Martin in an editorial and in the Opinion Northwest blog asking, “Who should stand in Statuary Hall in D.C.?” All supported keeping the current statues in place. Martin is collecting further suggestions on who should replace the current statues if you have additional ideas. Add your voice in the form at the bottom of this post.

Keep Mother Joseph memorialized in Statuary Hall

Why does Mother Joseph of the Sacred Heart belong in Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol? [“Whom to memorialize in Statuary Hall from Washington state?” Opinion, June 25].

She came to the West in 1856 with four other sisters to fill the unmet needs of God’s people on the frontier. In 46 years she led the opening of more than 30 hospitals, schools and homes for the sick, children, orphans, the elderly and the mentally ill in Vancouver, Olympia, Seattle, Spokane, Walla Walla, Port Townsend, Yakima, Tulalip, Colville, Sprague, Colfax, Cowlitz and Steilacoom. She is considered one of the Northwest’s first architects for the structures she built and helped pay for through begging tours in mines and lumber camps. The pioneer corporation she established in 1859 is now Providence Health & Services, serving health care, education and social-service needs in five states.

Gov. Dixy Lee Ray’s signing of the bill authorizing the honor was initiated by community individuals and supported by luminaries like Warren Magnuson and Henry Jackson. Young people embrace her story, like the students in Vancouver, Wash., who successfully lobbied in 1999 to make her birthday, April 16, a state holiday.

Mother Joseph’s legacy has touched millions and will remain forever in the annals of Washington state history.

Judith Desmarais, provincial superior at Sisters of Providence, Mother Joseph province, Renton

The importance of keeping names to teach history

Haven’t we all had enough of change for the sake of change?

My wife and I visited Statuary Hall a few years ago, so we knew that Marcus Whitman and Mother Joseph were memorialized there. Seeing them there inspired us to reacquaint ourselves with a bit of state history.

I, for one, am tired of the current trend of renaming everything that’s old with something new and its disastrous effect on our memories and our history. Who, for example, had greater impact of the development of Seattle as a great city, railroad executive James J. Hill or Martin Luther King Jr.? No doubt it was Hill, but we replaced the one small reminder of his contribution when we renamed Empire Way to Martin Luther King Jr. Way. Why didn’t we rename, for example, 23rd Avenue South instead of erasing Hill’s name from our local geography?

Local place names give teachers and parents an opening to discuss our history and those who worked and sometimes fought for what we are and have today. The people in Statuary Hall do the same. Tossing out their legacy for some current hero just because someone feels “it’s time to hit refresh” is simply wrong.

Alan Brockmeier, Mercer Island

Current political climate would make choices hard

Leave the statues alone. In this age of total political war, choosing new statues would only divide us further.

Whomever was chosen would have their name and legacy dragged through the mud in order to further the mudslingers opposite choice for this honor. No matter whom was chosen, this would happen.

The current honorees are well-known humanitarians who don’t have a lot of political baggage hanging off of them. They are good choices. Leave them where they are.

Jerry Johnson, Seattle

Comments | More in Historical figures | Topics: Alan Brockmeier, Jerry Johnson, Judith Desmarais

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