Memorials take many forms and have many purposes. Some are large in scope covering acres of land containing statues and museums, such as Gettysburg Battlefield, or are smaller in area but allow visitors to absorb history and meaning through sober reflection, such as the Washita Battlefield National Historic Site where Custer ambushed and killed Chief Black Kettle, his wife and most of his tribe of peaceful Native Americans.
What should be the design of a Posey County’s memorial to the people and events of October 1878? Of course, that is a community decision best made by representatives of various interests. However, I respectfully suggest the purposes of a memorial should be the same regardless of the physical structure:
To honor the victims;
To recognize the events;
To learn from the past;
And to inspire a desire to make a better future.
When one visits Gettysburg the opportunity to simply walk The Wheatfield as did the Confederates, or crouch behind short stone walls awaiting the charge as did the Yankees is to be transported into the soul of the battle of July 1863.
At Washita, to silently walk the dirt paths the fleeing Indian families took on foot as Custer and his soldiers pursued them on horseback is to experience the horror of November 1868. No museum is necessary.
Whereas the design of a memorial to the events of October 1878 in Posey County should be the result of careful planning with input from numerous persons, the location should be pre-determined. It should be where the murders took place, which was on the campus of our beautiful and historic courthouse.
I respectfully suggest a small area on the southeast corner of the courthouse campus be set aside and that there be medium size stones or marble steles with the names of the victims along with small marble benches where people could sit and absorb the events of 1878 while reflecting on their meaning. Of course, there could be a brief explanation of the events on a historical marker that would match the overall design. However, the design is not as important as the statement we as a community should make by finally publicly recognizing the events.
Leave a Reply