CONGRESS, apparently finding itself with time on it hands, is toying with the idea of giving a name to Arlington Cemetery's Tomb of the Unknowns.
Like me you probably thought that this dignified and moving monument already had a name, the one which we just used and by which millions of visitors and service men refer to it. Well, yes, but it turns out that's not a one-hundred-percent-official name. Just a term of convenience. So some members of Congress think it should have a congressionally-certified designation.
Rep. Marcy Kaptur, who chairs a subcommittee on veterans memorials, has a sensible, if unimaginative idea: call it the "Tomb of the Unknowns." But that's too mild a moniker for some of her colleagues who prefer a title with more conspicuous patriotic appeal. Their suggestions, the Congressional Quarterly reports, include "Tomb of the Unknown Warriors," "Tomb of the Unknown Patriots," "Tomb of the Military Un knowns" (remember old General What'sis name?), and -- my favorite -- "U.S. Armed Services Tomb of the Unknowns."
But why stop there? Many important features of the American landscape currently have to make do with only generic labels. Why should not Congress confer on them designations with greater marketing appeal?
Take the "Rocky Mountains," for example. Sure it's a nice, descriptive name; any child might have thought it up. But what does it say about America? Wouldn't "The Purple Mountains' Majestic Range" or "Patriots' Peaks" better capture the spirit of yesterday's and tomorrow's pioneers?
Then there's the Grand Canyon. Bor-ring. How about Sweet Land of Liberty Gorge?
The Atlantic Ocean. Sure the name has been around a long time, but is it official? How About the Sea-to-Shining Sea? Or maybe the One-if-by-Land-Two-if-by Sea?
The Pacific Ocean. A favorite of doves and weak-kneed liberals everywhere. Make it the General MacArthur Memorial Ocean.
The Continental Divide -- Dutch's Divide (separating the Supply-side from the Other Side.)
The Northeast -- The Pilgrims' Pride
The Southwest -- The Manifest Destiny
The Sunbelt -- The Gunbelt
The Great Plains -- The Fruited Plains
Then there's Des Moines which should, at the very least, change its name to Des Pluses.
Do you think we could persuade the state of Maine to change its name to the Remember-the-(State of)-Maine?
Jodie Allen is an editor of Outlook.