On Monday the Salem (Oregon) city council rejected a demand from veterans and military personnel that the Peace Plaza be renamed Liberty Plaza or Freedom Plaza. The disgruntled peaceaphobes also were up in arms over the United Nations flag in the plaza, calling this “foreign flag” a slap in the face to military personnel.
Late this afternoon, after changing out of my blogger’s pajamas, I decided to take a look for myself and see if the Peace Plaza was the radical hotbed of secular America-hating internationalism that the city council petitioners were making it out to be.
The plaza sits in between the library and a building housing the city offices. It’s tucked out of the way and doesn’t have any handy on-street parking. Demonstrating my commitment to investigative blogging journalism, I plunked 25 cents into a library parking garage meter and walked over to the Peace Plaza.
I felt like racing back to my car, driving home, and turning on Fox News so I could get my blood running red, white, and blue again. But I managed to calm myself and took a closer look at the display that sits beneath the UN flagpole.
The dedication plaque seemed innocuous enough. “Salem” does indeed mean “peace,” though I wish whoever founded our city had chosen a pure English name like they have in other states. Such as, say, Los Angeles.
Right-wingers concerned about the Peace Plaza will be pleased to know that a quotation from a great Republican president is prominently featured. Come to think of it though, those words seem like they could have been spoken by Cindy Sheehan or Michael Moore. I guess Republicans like Dwight D. Eisenhower talked different back in the 1950s.
Then I saw a truly leftist quote: “Blessed are the peacemakers.” That sounds so 60s. Everybody knows that we’ve got to stay the course in Iraq now. The Christian preachers I see on Fox News tell us so, so why should we listen to what Jesus says?
The radical leaning of the Peace Plaza really hit me when I saw this mural. Pagan to the core. Children sitting cross-legged in the forest, holding hands around a big Earth. Unpatriotic too. It was getting dark and I couldn’t see very well, but if there had been any American flags in the mural I think I would have noticed them.
The newspaper story talked about a Hiroshima display in a library window adjoining the Peace Plaza that annoyed the veterans. I didn’t see any sign of that, but there was Kwanzaa propaganda all over the place. Who says the war on Christmas isn’t for real?
But seriously now...I completed my tour of the plaza by walking to the other end and gazing up at the American flag. I couldn’t help but notice the moon. The same moon that was shining down on the United Nations flag.
Made me think of how this is one world. One Earth. Which, one day, could be peaceful. Sure seems like a dream.
But dreams can come true.