Your View: In defense of “Johnny Come Latelies”

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Your View: In defense of “Johnny Come Latelies”
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By James Bernau, Alexandria (File photo)

To the editor:
I want to start by stating my love for this community. My first experience in Alexandria was back in 1979, when I was on my way to an internship in France. I never really believed my life would bring me back to this community some 34 years later, but here I am.

The culture, people and experiences in this community are all wonderful. In fact, one of the owners of the company I worked for back then came and visited this fine city, commenting how Old Town made them think of Quebec. I have been to a lot of places in my lifetime and am glad to call this town home.

It is amazing to see two items divide this community: bicycles and Confederate history. Let me confess right now, I ride a bicycle in town, on trails, and to work when I don’t ride Metro. Let me also state, I stop at all Stop signs.

I have seen my share of cyclists believe they are above the law and fail to stop at signs and lights every time I ride. But I also see drivers who also believe they are above the law, rolling to stop, not stopping, failing to yield and running me off the road.

Now that I have that off my chest, let me get to the comment that recently set me to wondering, who does Greg Paspatis think he is (“Chang- ing street names would desecrate Alexandria’s history,” September 22)? Paspatis described some residents as “Johnny Come Latelies.”

Some of us find offense in people who wish to express themselves as “long time residents” and therefore feel they have the sole right to tell everyone else how to live. First, I don’t think the laws state only the old timers get to make the rules. Secondly, maybe we should look outside our neighborhoods and take in the experiences from around the country and around the world.

There are lots of things to be learned from some- one who has different experiences than you. While I was growing up in the late 1960s and 1970s, our school district hired only from outside the community. They thought it would be good to learn from people who had different experiences and life challenges.

I’m sorry to see that most schools today like to hire locals, so children only hear the same things their parents heard. What a missed opportunity to educate our people that we are not all alike.

While touring Arlington House with my French friends, they asked the park ranger about Robert E. Lee. His comment was, “If you really look at the history, Gen. Lee could be considered a traitor by many.”

I want to leave with one last comment to Mr. Paspatis: Unless your family came over on the Discovery to Jamestown, someone in this community probably lived here longer than you and your forebears, and by your logic, has the final say on what gets done in this town.

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