Friday, August 26, 2011

Reason #11: Huge Stone Dudes

I could talk about the significance of the new MLK Memorial being the first monument erected on the National Mall to feature a black man, but honestly, I mostly just love the fact that we're still making statues of people at all. And he's not just the first black subject on the Mall, he's the only subject who actually existed within current living memory. That rules.

As much as I'd love seeing any given Federal dollar go towards a road or a bridge, monuments are the one bit of ostentation that I think is still worth the time and money - things like this show that we're still about bigger-than-life ideas, and bigger-than-life people, as a nation. Looking at politics these days, it's hard to imagine anyone one day becoming so beyond reproach as an historical figure as to be worthy of a monument, but I suppose a lot of people would've felt that way about MLK at one point.

What's interesting is that federal planning for the monument dates back to at least the mid-90s, and James Earl Ray died in '98. So not only did they build a monument to a guy some people still remember personally, but they'd even started developing it while the guy convicted of killing him was still alive. I wonder if he knew about it.

And even if stuff like this is a waste of money, and contributing to our decline, the nice thing about monuments is that they'll probably outlast us anyway - so future nations can get a better sense of what we stood for, and build an even better society out of our ashes. If the ship really is going down, there are far worse things to leave behind than Dr. King.

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