TYPICALLY, I WOULD NOT criticize a veterans’ memorial project. I respect those who have served our country and those who lead efforts to honor them via public memorials.
However, last week when I saw the latest addition to the in-progress Rice County Veterans Memorial Expansion Project at the county courthouse in Faribault, I could not believe what I was seeing.
There, guiding my eyes toward a center bronzed eagle and dove, was a flashing neon flame depicting “our never ending vigilance.”
My initial reaction has not changed since I stopped that night to closer inspect and photograph this neon torch better suited for a casino—anything but a veterans’ memorial.
As we all know, first impressions count. In this case, the neon flame certainly does not fit. This is supposed to be a place of reverence, of quiet meditation, of respectful honor for those who have served the United States of America. A fake, flickering fire does not portray that message of honor.
I am disappointed.
Prior to installation of this imitation torch, a fuel-fed torch burned near the historical Civil War statue which has long graced the courthouse lawn. Apparently that flame went out all too often, leading to its removal and installation of the Vegas style torch.
I could go on and on about how much I dislike this cheapening alternative, how it fails to fit the historical context of this place, the courthouse architecture or the long-standing Civil War marker. I won’t because I’ve said enough.
View my photos and tell me what you think. I’d like your opinion.
But even more, if you agree that this style of torch does not belong at a veterans’ memorial, offer a solution. I have none. Except to pull the plug.
© Copyright 2011 Audrey Kletscher Helbling