The board of directors of the WNC Veterans Memorial has announced that it’s withdrawing a controversial poem, instead proposing two new inscriptions for the memorial, which is slated to be erected in the renovated City/County Plaza.
In a Dec. 17 press release, the group stated that it “wishes to avoid controversy regarding the Veterans Memorial,” which is “dedicated to peace, liberty, freedom as well as veterans. Since hundreds of the public have donated funds for construction of the memorial, the board has worked very hard to please all of the communtiy.”
Asheville’s Public Art Board, which is charged with approving the design, recently asked the veterans’ group to modify the poem or find another one. In the press release, the memorial’s board of directors says that it should decide the content of the monument, having “fought for the design and raised funding for [it] for the past six years.”
The originally chosen poem, “It is the Veteran” by Charles Province, had drawn criticism from those who felt it was too militaristic and denigrated other professions. Supporters of the poem maintained that it simply highlighted veterans’ contributions. (See “The Writing on the Wall,” Nov. 7 Xpress, and “Poetry Wars,” Dec. 12 Xpress.)
The memorial board now proposes two inscriptions, one on each pylon of the memorial:
Dedicated to those who gave us
Peace, Liberty and Freedom
And To Those Who Have
If we cannot do them honor
While they’re here to hear the praise
Then at least let’s give them homage
At the ending of their days.