Memorial Allowed After Debate Over Expression
Thursday, June 19, 2008
What expression would an 18th-century woman have donned as her husband left for war? It depends on which government official you ask.
After nearly a decade of lobbying by a group to erect a memorial in Leesburg honoring local Revolutionary War participants, recent debate over whether to approve the monument's proposed design has centered largely on that historical, and somewhat existential, question.
The Patriot Project was proposed by the Loudoun Revolutionary War Memorial Committee, a nonprofit group that began organizing in 1999 after participants in a Memorial Day ceremony that year had no place to hang a wreath commemorating the War for Independence.
"We had to place it on [another] memorial," said group President Larry Moison, 79, a member of the Sons of the American Revolution who can trace his lineage to a Massachusetts Minuteman. "It occurred to us following that, that, 'Gee wiz, there should be a memorial.' "
Since then, the group has embarked on a long journey toward government approval, making its first proposal to the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors in 2000. On Monday, the board passed a motion allowing the organization to provide the memorial and approved a statue design and location on the grounds of the county courthouse in Leesburg.
The decision came after a lengthy debate about the proposed design that made for an unusual back-and-forth for a body that typically deliberates over such issues as whether to fund School Board budget requests or rezone land.
The privately funded bronze statue's design, chosen by the public last year over four other proposals, features a rebel soldier with his wife and child. In an artist's rendering, the man gazes toward the horizon with a determined stare. The boy's head is upturned, as he looks with pride at his father.
"She's looking pretty beat; she's looking like she's sad," Supervisor Kelly Burk (D-Leesburg) said at Monday's meeting. "If we could get the representation of her to be more looking forward and knowing the future is there, and the future is for her, and her husband, and her children -- would that be possible?"
Moison said it probably was. But his years-long battle would not end there.
Supervisor Eugene Delgaudio (R-Sterling) asked whether the soldier had ammunition for his weapon. Supervisor Stevens Miller (D-Dulles) asked who would pay for the statue's upkeep.
When the floor opened up for public comments, it became clear where the real battle lines were drawn.