It’s a mindless kind of driving that happens in the mornings. The same route as always. The same songs on the radio. There’s always construction somewhere. I never remember much of the drive. Nothing much changes to spark my interest, to make my brain hold onto it.
The traffic light is red and I tap the wheel impatiently. As always, I am running late. Do the traffic gods not realize this?? The light remains red, almost in defiance of my irritation.
I stare to the left. I generally look to my left when I’m bored. Why does my head turn in that direction effortlessly. Does it not like my right side as much? (My thoughts are very deep and philosophical in the morning. please note the sarcasm.)
The statue on the small strip of grass rises above the dust and fumes of summer traffic. Dressed in Revolutionary era garb it seems out of place in the fast paced metal and rubber world of the 21st century. Gripping his rifle he stares into the middle distance. He’s clean shaven and his boots look new. No one looked like this during the Revolutionary War. This statue does not represent the real men, but the conquering nation as a whole.
Now my brain is interested. I’m sure I’ve seen it before but this time I remember it. I hold onto it. And I am bothered.
I have seen many statues like this one. Similar ones are in almost every city I go, in the United States of America and abroad. They symbolize bravery and victory. In the case of the Revolutionary War they symbolize the beginning of a nation. Why must these symbols always carry guns? Sure, soldiers technically won the war. But not these soldiers. Not these perfect, clean, well dressed soldiers that the statues are. And there’s no sign of the many civilians who hid them, who fed them, who worried for them, and who mourned them. No sign of the PTSD and internal struggles those who survived had to live with.
Wars are often won by military might and the people who support them. But nations are built in the aftermath. They are built by politicians and by farmers. They are built by teachers and doctors. They are built by carpenters and social workers. Why are they not represented?
We say we pray for peace but we build statues holding guns.