Letters to the Editor

UNC president Venable wanted ‘Silent Sam’ statue to represent all who fought

Venable’s vision

In 1913, Francis Venable had a vision to erect a Civil War monument to inspire future Carolina students to have the courage demonstrated by UNC alumni when they answered the call to duty. Unfortunately, history continues to label the monument a Confederate statue.

True, the initial idea by Annie Kenan of the United Daughters of the Confederacy was to erect a Confederate monument. But once Venable exchanged ideas with sculptor John Wilson, he expanded his tribute for UNC alumni from northern states that fought for the Union.

However, Kenan apparently did not agree with Venable’s changes and disbanded the monument committee. Somehow, Venable was able to reorganize the committee under a new chairwoman. He needed the UDC’s help in fundraising as well as cooperation from the powerful Julian Carr.

In order to gain their approval, Venable left in an alleged quote from Robert Lee as “their commander.” The quote Venable uses in the inscription is from an alleged letter Lee wrote in October, 1865, where he condemned the “evil practice of slavery” and objected to the erection of any statues honoring the Confederacy in order to heal the wounds of war.

Venable’s main objective was to erect a monument to pay tribute to the act of courage in answering the “call to duty.” If Venable wanted the monument to be a Confederate statue, he would have the young man in uniform and plainly stated on the inscription “in honor of the Confederacy. Silent Sam is not a Confederate statue.

Paul M. Stutts


Stop herbicide roadside spraying

After discovering that the N.C. Department of Transportation had sprayed roadside herbicides along a property line, I became increasingly frustrated because:

1) This road is along Wild Scallions Farm, a sustainably operated producer of vegetables, fruits and flowers. The fact that DOT could spray herbicides around our farm without our consent goes against our operating principles.

2) For the last few years I have harvested new brush growth that interfered with road visibility at the end of my driveway to provide desirable food for our baby goats in the spring. While I understand that the right-of-way regulations allow fairly far-reaching “rights” to treatment of the roadsides, the landowner should have equal voice. After all, we “own” the land and pay taxes from the center of the road.

3) In recent years I have harvested 12 to 15 pounds of blackberries from a very good wild variety along that roadside. This year I will get none.

4) It’s ugly! At this point, the spraying has not improved the visibility from my driveway, All the leaves are still there; they’re just brown now. When the leaves eventually fall off, the dead branches will still be there.

The optimal solution would be for NCDOT to eliminate their wide-ranging herbicide program and return to vertical mowing. At least, they need to notify property owners of their intent and offer an “opt out” option for owners.

I encourage all organic or sustainable farmers in the region, their customers, property rights proponents, and those who don’t like ugly dead roadsides to contact your local and state NCDOT maintenance offices, Roadside Environmental Division managers, or local legislators who control DOT funding to express your concerns.

Russ Clayton


Speak up

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