Observations From A Former Chattanoogan On 2 Confederate Statue Letters

Saturday, September 9, 2017

I am writing in response to the letters of Ms. Depoy and Ms. Cooper published September 8, 2017 on the topic of removal of Confederate statues currently under discussion in many cities and towns throughout of the United States. As a graduate of UTC, Notre Dame High School, and Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parochial School, I was so glad to see both letters—they were honest and expressed a very fair range of opinion voiced in an appropriate and constructive manner. Both letters are important, and both reminded me of why I loved going to school and living in Southeast Tennessee.

Chattanooga was always, for me, a place where my friends and neighbors always heard me out, even if they did not agree with me. And sadly I find this type of informal exchange now sorely needed and extremely lacking at the national level.

I have a few observations that I wanted to share, in the same constructive vein fostered by these two letters. My experience working as an attorney for museums for the last several years gives me a different perspective on the way historic preservation works—including legal and regulatory requirements for museum construction and landscape architecture where these statues are located. I should also say that I don’t think anything about my perspective or experience makes me right, or wrong, and I thank you for your indulgence in hearing me out.

Observation #1. The removal of Confederate statues by many cities, including Charlottesville and Baltimore, has been under discussion by the city officials in some cases years prior to the current kerfuffle over the issue. These discussions are appropriate to the roles of representatives elected by the people who live in these cities and are not the result of some weird conspiracy. To me this means that people in areas like Baltimore and Charlottesville want something different in their parks, and are using the available democratic procedures to achieve that. In the very political climate engulfing our country, I believe this fact is often overlooked and overshadowed. There’s a simple way to handle Ms. Depoy’s Confederate statue debate fatigue: write to your elected representatives, and tell them what you want in your parks. Talk to them about what those statues mean to you. Talk about what scares you when you see them removed. Please note that I have recommended talking, instead of yelling, screaming and/or pitchforks. The last time I checked, Chattanooga was still operating on a direct democratic system, and I believe it will continue to do so.

Observation #2.  If you really do identify with the history of your state, city or town, do more to understand and support those places before it gets to this point.  Museums are always great places to start this process. National Parks are, too. Many are struggling with reduced funding and low attendance, but if the current debate upsets you, use your frustration to learn more about the issue and make your voice really count. See some art. Read a book. Buy a t-shirt, for heavens’ sake. If I had a dime for every craft fair dream catcher I see hanging from car rearview mirrors, I could probably start my own museum, and endow a research position to help people understand how Native American history has absolutely nothing to do with tacky vehicle accessories. The popularity of the fluffy, sparkling, completely inaccurate dream catcher in people’s homes and cars tell me that they desire a connection to Native American culture, but no clue how to really find that. Likewise, the ferocity of this debate over removal of Confederate statues in towns tells me people have an idea of their history that is extremely important to them. How we express that love and connection says so much about us. The truth is not pretty, nor does it change because we wish it were different. But we can look at it and understand it better together. At their best, that’s what museums and parks try to do—bring people together to learn something.

In closing, I admit openly to a conflict of interest in making these observations. I work for museums, I love them, and I want to use this discussion as an opportunity to help them. Again, thank you for hearing me out.

Eve Errickson

Alexandria, Va.



Send Your Opinions To Chattanoogan.com; Include Your Full Name, Address, Phone Number For Verification

We welcome your opinions at Chattanoogan.com. Email to  news@chattanoogan.com . We require your real first and last name and contact information. This includes your home address and phone number. We do not post the contact information, but need it for verification. There is no word limit, but if your article is too long you may lose your reader. Please focus more ... (click for more)

Lawsuit May Bring More Security To Hamilton Place Mall

Good for the military veteran that is suing for getting shot on CBL's and ERMC's watch. With this past holiday season's traumatic events unfolding at the mall and clear evidence that ERMC security does not have the ability to insure the safety of the patrons, it is time for a lawsuit to get someone's attention.  This military veteran, who clearly saw combat due to the mentioned ... (click for more)

Witness Says Morse Told Him "His Emotions Got The Best Of Him" At Triple Killing In Lookout Valley

A witness told a Criminal Court jury on Friday that Derek Morse told him "his emotions got the best of him" at a triple killing in Lookout Valley. Michael Shavers also said Morse told him in detail about the slayings of John "Jake" Lang, Jon Morris and Caleb Boozer and the shooting of Matthew Callan at the Rolling Hills Trailer Park on April 9, 2014. Morse is standing trial ... (click for more)

Prosecutor Calls For "Meaningful Punishment" For Dyer, Brennan In $4.9 Million Swindle

Federal prosecutor James Brooks is calling for a "meaningful sentence" for Doug Dyer and James Brennan, who are charged in a $4.9 million swindle. He rejected arguments that they should receive leniency due to their age and health problems. They are set to be sentenced next Friday at 9 a.m. by Judge Travis McDonough. Prosecutor Brooks said concerning Dyer, "As this Court ... (click for more)

Unbeaten Baylor Rolls Past Cleveland For 30th win

The Baylor Lady Red Raiders have produced more than their share of outstanding volleyball teams in head coach Sarah Lail’s tenure, but this year’s team may be the best ever. There are no real superstars like in years past, but they have a talented group of young ladies who can beat you from any number of spots on the court. Facing one of its biggest tests of the season on ... (click for more)

Vols, UMass Matchup Pits 1998 National Champions

Tennessee takes on UMass on Saturday at Neyland Stadium. The game will feature a noon ET kickoff on SEC Network.     Tennessee (2-1) is coming off a 26-20 road loss to Florida on Sept. 16. Junior running back John Kelly set career highs with 141 rushing yards and 96 receiving yards and played a major role in the Vols' second half rally before the Gators ... (click for more)