Editorial: Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication
According to news reports from Virginia’s capital city, state commissions are considering designs for monuments to women and to Virginia Indians. Both are to be located in Capitol Square, the Richmond Times-Dispatch has said.
And both monuments, it appears, have attracted a raft of competing designs, making the selection of a finalist rather difficult. In both cases, as well, a mass tribute is envisioned, with a variety of features and characters competing for our attention … because in our multicultural society, no one representation of anything sums up what people are looking for.
Call us stodgy, but we still prefer a one-theme tribute. What bespeaks struggle and triumph better than the Iwo Jima flag-raising memorial in Arlington? What could be more dignified than Houdon’s statue of George Washington in our state capitol? Instead of constructing a statue of him in the midst of newly-freed slaves, and of soldiers, both blue and gray, sculptor Daniel Chester French captured the distinct character of Abraham Lincoln in a simple, seated pose.
Virginia, named for the "Virgin Queen" Elizabeth and becoming itself the name of countless girl babies over the centuries, cannot decide how to memorialize the role of women in its history.
So many worthy women have graced the pages of this long history that it would be difficult to attempt a representative selection. Someone would be left out. Someone’s feelings would be hurt.
The same concerns pervade decision on the Indian monument. There are the stories of early culture, of teaching the colonists how to live here, the sad stories of dispersal and eradication, the stories of survival for the remnants of the early tribes.
We vote for simplicity as the state pursues its monuments.
We vote for either of these two images:
"Virtus" herself, as personified standing over tyranny on our state seal, would be a good choice—the ultimate Virginia woman.
Equally good, if not reserved for the Indian monument, would be Pocahontas, the Gloucester Native American whose friendship helped to ensure survival of the first permanent English colony in the New World. Without her, where would Virginia be today?