A controversial poem planned for inclusion the City/County Plaza Veterans Memorial has received enough criticism that the city’s Public Art Board is reconsidering it.
At Tuesday’s meeting of the Public Art Board, according an article in this week’s Asheville Tribune by PAB member (and poem supporter) Bill Fishburne, the board’s chair, Barbara Cary, said she’s received e-mail and phone complaints about the poem, entitled “It is the Soldier,” since Xpress ran an article on criticisms of the poem earlier this month. Questions were also raised about the rights to the poem, written by veteran Charles Province in the 1960s. Fishburne reported that he had contacted Province, who had given his permission for the poem to be used.
Complaints about the poem, which attributes various rights to veterans with lines like “It is the veteran, not the minister/Who has given us freedom of religion,” called it denigrating to the other professions it mentions. Several veterans, including Fishburne, said they found the poem beautiful and that the material had already been approved.
Cary tabled consideration of the poem until the board’s next meeting.
— David Forbes, staff writer