Your Views: Keep the name, switch the fame

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Your Views: Keep the name, switch the fame
Photo/Cody Mello-Klein
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To the editor:

The following is an open letter to Mayor Justin Wilson, pertaining to his advocacy for tossing the process that was established to rename Confederate streets in Alexandria to one of top-down decrees:

I urge you not to change street names to retroactively punish long-dead Confederates. Instead, keep the name, but switch the fame to someone regardless of race or gender who has provided meritorious service to Alexandria.

Foremost, there is no need to insult the hundreds, maybe thousands of Alexandria taxpayers who share the same surname as one of the 41 Confederates who have a street named after them.

Nor is there a need to force the many taxpayers who reside on one of these streets to endure the enormous inconvenience and cost to change deeds, checkbooks, websites, among other things, much less require that all taxpayers pay to fabricate and install new street signs.

Declaring 41 surnames to be officially reprehensible and, therefore, stricken from street signage and who knows what other official opprobrium is not a step that bonds – just the opposite.

Also, don’t overlook that each of these Confederates were pardoned for their conduct and that some, such as Mosby, once pardoned, provided meritorious service to the nation for many years thereafter.

The simple, sensible solution is to keep the street name but switch the fame.

Task the Historic Alexandria Resources Commission to nominate current, former and deceased residents who share the same surname of one of the 41 Confederate-named streets and who have distinguished themselves in some indisputable meritorious manner. Invite area schools, community groups and Veteran’s organizations to participate too.

Get yourself off the slippery slope you’re on. Castigating 41 surnames will not find favor with taxpaying residents who have one of them. And, if you persist in this cockamamie scheme to punish surnames, then change yours. After all, Wilson is the surname of a virulent racist Virginian who became President of the United States.

-Jimm Roberts, Alexandria

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