Monday, April 09, 2007

A memorial, or a glorification of violence?

The city of Littleton, Colorado, wants to honor Navy SEAL Danny Dietz, who was killed in Afghanistan in 2005, by erecting a statue to the fallen Littleton native. The statue, designed by sculptor Robert Henderson, would feature Dietz holding a rifle in a "parade-rest" position on one knee.

Some local parents, however, are protesting the design and location of the statue, which is close to a few schools, claiming that it glorifies violence because he's holding a weapon.

You can read the story from the Rocky Mountain News here.

I think the protest is ridiculous and the protestors are among the frighteningly large population of parents in this country who are petrified at the thought of having to actually parent. A statue like this lends a wonderful opportunity to have a conversation with your child.

But that's what I think. How about you?


Joe the Troll said...

They're also local taxpayers, so I guess they have a right. I assume that Colorado, just like every state, has sufficient monuments to warfare that parents can initiate a dialog with.

Paula said...

I don't have a problem with the statue/gun being near a school (what next, editing history textbooks to take out mentions of cannons, etc.?), or with acknowledging that we are at war, but it just seems weird to honor one particular soldier in this way. Is he the only fallen soldier from Littleton? If there's another one, will there be a new statue? What if eventually there are a hundred fallen soldiers from Littleton?

But I'm definitely agreeing with your point about parenting. Seems a lot of parents lately want to avoid responsibility by having others censor every damn thing for them. But it's too hard to turn off the TV when little Jason wants to watch the boobie channel, waaah. (And god forbid, kids actually SEE something - they'll be scarred for life!)

Joe the Troll said...

"(And god forbid, kids actually SEE something - they'll be scarred for life!)"

Unless it's lunchtime in the 2nd grade, eh?

Don said...

I agree w Jeff, but also w Paula about the many-statues conundrum. (BTW, "a kneeling Dietz holding an M4A1 assault rifle" is not at "parade-rest".)

Thinking: If I lost my spouse to war, I wouldn't want a forever-young statue of her anywhere. This country overdoes the monuments already. In a war such as Iraq, the losses are mostly personal, because the war, as a defense of the country itself, is too abstract.

Jeff K said...

"(BTW, "a kneeling Dietz holding an M4A1 assault rifle" is not at "parade-rest".)"

You know, the sculptor was quoted as saying Dietz would be at parade-rest, but you're right, as I look at at the actual piece, it's definitely not parade rest.

O' Tim said...

Navy Seal, huh? Surely he got down with his bad blade on some Taliban throat. I think they should depict that scenario. It'd be as good a conversation starter as a bleeding Virgin Mary.

Anonymous said...

It seems there are good reasons to debate whether or not to have the statue, but "Kids might see an image of a man holding a gun!" is as stupid a one as I can think of. As if not putting that statue up is going to eradicate that possibility.

And I agree with Jeff about parenting and talking. Unfortunately, it's going to be a long time before the children of Littleton stop hearing and seeing references to violence being bandied about in association with their town (look, I'm doing it already and we're only 7 comments in!), so perhaps those parents are in even less of a position to try to put their heads in the sand and their fingers in their ears than most. Protecting your children does not mean sheltering them, because you can't. It means giving them the best resources and coping mechanisms you can.

Anonymous said...

I think a statue of a fallen son holding a weapon is, either accidentally or on purpose, a glorification of war. But I don't have a relevant opinion about putting such a statue up in public where everyone can see it, including kids. Obviously it's done all the time. Since we don't put up statues of old men and women who have grown old and died after living boring, grinding lives, we're stuck with soldiers.

But seriously, I don't see a problem with this statue, especially a hundred years from now.


Looney said...

"If I've got my 4-year-old at the playground, I feel it would be a threatening image that would frighten her," Fuchs said.

Uh, no. While others are right that people have a right to have their opinions heard, this is stupid. There are statues of grim soldiers bearing swords, guns, on horseback, manning cannons, etc. all over the place. There were a couple in two towns in which I lived. I can't imagine *any* child being frightened of any of them, unless mom was stupid enough to try to get them to climb on it for a pic, and I daresay that would have little to do with the image itself.

Dietz was a soldier, and his fight in Afghanistan is the good fight. In Iraq I don't think you could make that distinction, but Afghanistan is a nerve-center of the real war on terror, and he sacrificed himself for his country in that fight. That is heroic.

There's a myopic, knee-jerk sensibility (and I use that word loosely) among some in this country to call all war bad, and all soldiers criminal, etc. That's idiotic.

Let the memorial go up, and maybe Mrs. Fuchs will be forced to find a way to discuss reality with her child rather than clinging to Teletubbyland until the kid's a pregnant teenager in rehab.

Mirk said...

I agree with all you say!

But what is a conversation? :0)

Joe the Troll said...

At the risk of being cold and unfeeling, who is this monument for, anyway? The soldier? The soldier is past all concerns of monuments, or anything Earthly. These monuments are designed, IMO, to assuage the felings of the survivors who sent their own off to die in a foriegn land. I think learning to be more picky about what constitutes a good reason to do so would do us all a lot more good than a statue will.

gekko said...

When war is necessary, then glorifying it -- not for the sake of war itself -- is not a bad thing. It's necessary when that's the best option to right a wrong. Similarly, depicting a uniformed soldier holding a weapon is not a bad thing. Police carry and use guns and protect us. Soldiers, at least in this country, do likewise. The only times the sight of a gun is bad is when it's being aimed at you or at some other innocent person and the intent is to take that person's life.

People are often unfeeling fuckwits, sad to say.

Anonymous said...

Oh sweet Jesus, for some reason this reminds me of the nuts who got the teacher fired for taking the kids to a museum containing nude statues. Some parents think "teachable moment", and some think "avoid thinking at all costs". One would think the Littleton folks already learned where the latter gets you.

My only issue was already raised above - why this soldier? If more are killed, will there be fields full of statues, as far as the eye can see?

O' Tim said...

Gekko wrote: "The only times the sight of a gun is bad is when it's being aimed at you..."

Indeed, I hope the sight is bad, and also that the bastard's hand is shaky. ;)

venessa said...

As a peace activist, it is not something I would want to see erected in my city. If it was decided to erect (yet another) statue, why not one that honors a person who fought for social justice and peace? The people we choose to immortalize act as a reflection of our societal values.

It is not because I don't want to parent my child. My oldest is 5, and we talk about war and peace all the time and she attends peace activities with me. The war is a frequent topic of discussion at our Quaker meeting as well.

My opinions are not as they are because I am removed from the people who fight. My brother is in the army in Iraq (for the second time) as we speak (he also served in Afghanistan), and my good friend is a Navy Seal who just returned from his tour there. I love them both dearly, they believed that they are/were doing the right thing at the time. And honestly, I don't think that either of them would want a statue of themself erected for fighting in the recent wars. They are both pretty disillusioned by the whole situation.

Mark said...

We erect statues for all sorts of historical figures, not just soldiers as was implied above.

Why NOT this soldier?

venessa said...

I wasn't implying that we only erect statues of soldiers.

You can say "why not?" to almost anyone who does anything. Rather than say why not, shouldn't we ask "why?"

I also wasn't implying that there was something specific about that soldier that should prevent a statue. Rather, that by erecting a statue of a soldier (any soldier)in such a way that suggests that the wars we are fighting are just is not something that I would personally support.

Jeff K said...

From my understanding of the situation, Dietz was given the Navy's highest honor posthumously because of the lives he saved by giving his own. They're erecting a memorial of him because he has been named a hero, not just because he's a soldier.

Mark said...

"I wasn't implying that we only erect statues of soldiers."

Just to clarify, I wasn't referring to your comment, Vanessa.


venessa said...

Oh, sorry, Mark. Feeling sheepish. :)

Mark said...

"Feeling sheepish. :)"

Not at all. I did say above and your comment was directly above mine, so perfectly understandable.

Good on you for speaking openly with your children.