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The Daily Tar Heel

Letter: Silent Sam: out of sight, out of mind


In the midst of the controversy swirling around Silent Sam, may I offer a few observations.  

Much has been made of the speech of Julian Carr at the 1913 dedication of the monument, but it was unrepresentative of the views of four other distinguished persons who also spoke at that ceremony.  

Those persons were: Governor Locke Craig giving an Oration, Mrs. Marshall Williams, President of the N.C.U.D.C. giving an address, Mrs. Henry Armand London, Chairman of the Monument Committee, with the presentation of the monument, Francis Preston Venable, President of the University of North Carolina, speaking to accept the monument and speaking last, Julian Carr presented the thanks of the Student Veterans.  

One and all their remarks were focused on the purpose articulated by the sculptor. In fact, Governor Craig’s speech went into considerable detail to enumerate the exact numbers of students and faculty members who had answered the call and served.  

“This statue,” he said, “is a memorial to their chivalry and devotion. It is an epic poem in bronze. Its beauty and its grandeur are not limited by the genius of the sculptor. The soul of the beholder will determine the revelation of its meaning.” 

John A. Wilson, the sculptor, had spelled out his intentions, e.g., in a letter to one of the sponsors: 

“The ideal commemorated by this monument is one of service and the noble answer to the call of duty. It is not intended as merely a monument to the dead but a lesson to the living.”

Second, in the current circumstances many persons have spoken out saying that the statue of Silent Sam is an affront on the front campus, and that he should be moved to another location.  

I ask you to consider that moving Sam somewhere else, would be a kind of negative solution, an “out of sight, out of mind” solution.  

If Sam is to be a lesson to the living at this University, I suggest we try to find a positive solution, in which Sam remains.  

And meanwhile we can look for ways to enrich and memorialize the history of the University in order to show how it has changed and developed since 1913.  

Sam need not be the only monument to university students on the front campus.  

Along with Sam, there is only the monument to the first trustees on Person Hall, the Unsung Heroes monument and the Caldwell monument, but we might think of other possibilities.

Jaroslav Folda

N. Ferebee Taylor Professor 


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