By Gary J. Carr, Alexandria
To the editor:
I read with interest your front-page article on Lenwood “Lenny” Harris (“Honoring Lenny Harris,” October 23).
The story describes the renaming of Braddock Field near the Metro station in honor of the late civic activist. By a unanimous vote, the city council changed the name of a field that — symbolically and practically — is at the center of the community.
What the article failed to note is the woeful state of repair of what was formerly known as Braddock Field.
I knew Lenny Harris. I make no claim of having a close relationship, but I can say with confidence that he would count me among his many friends. We were the same age, and he frequently stopped at a business I owned along Mount Vernon Avenue.
I also frequented his spot, Pieces by Lenny, which he used to run nearby. We had the synergy of interest that made for quick companions.
He knew I had a finger on the pulse of the community, and we would shoot the breeze, discussing local happenings. I also helped him on a project or two.
All that is to say: He likely was aware of my longtime advocacy for improving the city’s running tracks, including the one at the adjacent George Washington Middle School. I can’t recall a specific conversation, but his general response would be to “keep on pushing,” and eventually my efforts would bear fruit.
If I could say something to him now, it might start like, “Hey, Lenny, they just named the worst field in Alexandria after you.” I would continue by saying, “They don’t have a plan to improve it, in spite of a pressing need.”
He would probably laugh and nod knowingly. He would expect me to tell it like it is.
“Continue the effort,” he likely would reply, knowing change often comes slowly. I would also tell him that nobody deserves to die like he did and that there are many people that love and miss him.
Lenny Harris Field should be a place that is representative of the spirit of the person for whom it’s named. To serve as an inspiration to the city’s youth, as his brother has said, the area with so much potential needs to become a center of the community.
The real honor to Lenny Harris will come when the field bearing his name fulfills the enormous potential he saw in every child.