Thursday, January 4, 2018
To the Editor:
While all the other salient aspects of the proposed development on Seminary Road have been criticized, the name "Karig Street" has not yet received the attention I believe it deserves. While it's hoped that the proposed road won't come into being, I'll use it to make a larger point.
In the recent debates about removing Confederate statues and renaming streets, people have pointed out that the latter can be disruptive and costly: signs, maps, and other amenities have to be changed, and those who live on the street have to update all their own documents. But these difficulties should only make us the more determined that future streets will, in the interim, compensate for the malign choices of the past by bearing the names of prominent African Americans, first, and then of slaves associated with Alexandria, which, we recall with horror, was one of America's largest slave trading centers.
To me this seems like such a good solution to a complex problem that I can't imagine why the city hasn't hastened to adopt it as a policy. It's easy enough to draw up a list, and I hope our own native son, Samuel Tucker, will be on at least a portion of the renamed Jefferson Davis Highway. Again, how could any Alexandrian official not seize the opportunity to encourage this? Quite apart from its moral value, it would be good for business: it would add to the many very old historical sites of our beautiful city a site reflecting an an event of a trifling (by our standards) 75 years ago. And what a gift to parents of children who neglect their homework: "Listen, Samuel Tucker went to jail for the privilege of sitting in the library studying!"
First things first, though. At the top of the list should be the name of any soldier or police officer from Alexandria who is killed in the line of duty. Again, surely this is axiomatic. Giving your life for others is on a moral plane by itself. The fact that many of these heroes are young reinforces the imperative to commemorate their names publicly.
I'd be fascinated to hear what arguments could be made against any of these points.