Letter – Opposes new highway marker
Published 5:20 pm Tuesday, December 27, 2022
Editor, The Smithfield Times:
Tourists flock to Smithfield, in part, to experience the magic of an actual historic physical environment. Our very real 350-plus-years-old array of storied historical structures, along with their exciting narratives, are unmatched anywhere in the commonwealth. This is one of the reasons tourists come here from far and wide.
The recent approval of the soon-to-be-misplaced “Schoolhouse Museum” highway marker in the name of “diversity” is truly dismaying.
The Virginia Department of Historic Resources lists this proposed marker in the controversial political category “Diversity” rather than any of their usual standard (factual) history categories. Our commonwealth’s very regrettable, and presumably temporary, foray into racial politics is deleterious to not just our factual history but also negatively impacts the local, and statewide, tourism industry. People travel to Virginia for its rich history, not to be fooled by ill-intended political gestures.
Once we start presenting false history, as the mal-placed “Schoolhouse” marker will be, our out-of-town guests, who contribute well to our local economy, will quickly begin to question the veracity of our real history markers and our reputation for history tourism will diminish.
The town and the county must now intervene to have this excellent marker placed where it really belongs: at the historic Christian Home Church and School site on Longview Drive. The wonderful, diverse history that this marker portrays occurred, as the proposed text readily admits, there and not where the “Schoolhouse Museum” building was mistakenly moved to.
Creating false history for temporal political purposes creates confusion, most of all among our youth who want to know historical facts and are quick to spot the fake ones.
Albert P. Burckard Jr.