Arkansas is the scene of yet another questionable memorial undertaking, this time honoring a “martyred” teenaged spy. I’m all for marking historical spots, but sometimes the motives of these Confederate commemorators seem suspect. As the article notes, the spy, David O. Dodd, already has some plaques and his name on a local school. His story doesn’t contain any bold Nathan Hale-like last words, nor anything of drama about his life nor the information he had procured. It’s a story that was repeated no doubt hundreds of times during the conflict. Surely Arkansas isn’t so starved for state heroes that it needs to keep beating the Dodd drum.
A state commission’s decision, though, to grant approval for yet another tribute to Dodd has revived an age-old question: Should states still look for ways to commemorate historical figures who fought to defend unjust institutions?
"(Dodd) already has a school. I don’t know why anything else would have to be done to honor him," James Lucas Sr., a school bus driver, said near the state Capitol in downtown Little Rock.
Arkansas’ complicated history of race relations plays out on the Capitol grounds. A stone and metal monument that’s stood for over a century pays tribute to the Arkansas men and boys who fought for the Confederacy and the right to own slaves. Not far away, nine bronze statues honor the black children who, in 1957, needed an Army escort to enter what had been an all-white school.