Three ancient desires most humans share are to remember people, remember them for their significant deeds, and remember those deeds with their images. Recently Queenie Warden, SLO's first female mayoral candidate, got a plaque on Mission Plaza, and Frances Margaret Milne, our first public librarian, got a monument in the San Luis Cemetery. Both of these efforts to remember flawed but significant crusaders for the betterment of our selves emerged from private citizens and made our public space richer.
The proposed monument in Mitchell Park remembers the place and moment that our busiest environmentalist—who preserved a quarter of a billion acres—introduced the idea that "our aim must be to hand over to our children not an impoverished but an improved heritage." Teddy Roosevelt did it here, in the park, in front of 10,000 locals, in front of the nation, and changed the course of history.
Was Roosevelt flawed? Absolutely. Should memorials to our progress be more diverse? Absolutely. Should SLO City Council, to express its disapproval of the imperfect nature of human history, forbid the rest of us an entire category of free expression about it? Absolutely not, for that would only prove history has taught us nothing.
San Luis Obispo