There is something in the human psyche that strives to keep memories alive. We have memorialized events such as the attack on Pearl Harbor that occurred Dec. 7, 1941 or the “Field of Empty Chairs” part of the Oklahoma City National Memorial commemorating the assault on the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995. We commemorate the lives of the famous and not so famous with statues and plaques on buildings. We memorialize troops we’ve sent off to war never to return with trees, such the 443 that line Fort Stewarts’ “Warriors Walk,” one for each 3rd ID soldier lost in battle. But there are small, more personal memorials as well, from brass plaques at the bottom of trees at Central City Park to one set in stone at Healy Point marking the area in Jones County where the famous Healy family originated.
Macon City Council finally gave approval to a memorial bench to commemorate the life of Mercer Law graduate Lauren Giddings. While this community will always remember her tragic death and the circumstances that surrounded it, her friends wanted to remember her life. It was a simple request to locate the bench in Washington Park, a place dear to Giddings and her friends, paid for by private donations.
Unfortunately, the effort was caught in the undertow of race and class that too many times clouds almost any issue. Some believe Giddings’ murder was handled differently than other killings of African Americans. That she was getting the attention because she was white, blond and well educated. Others complained that other victims’ families could not afford such a memorial and some on council extrapolated that if this request were granted, a deluge of requests would follow. If that were to happen, so what? We have plenty of available space. All council had to do, and what it eventually did with the help of Councilman Frank Tompkins, is come up with some guidelines for such memorials. In the meantime, some on council added another notch on the dysfunctional handle of the gun that it uses to shoot itself in the foot.
-- For the Editorial Board