After surviving cancer, a dear friend suggested a trip to Prague. We went, toured with our Czech phrase books and visited sites that I had read about in Eastern European college studies through fiction and non-fiction period pieces through history. I was enchanted, inspired, awed, and humbled by all I saw and felt — the enormity of history in a two week trip.
That first trip inspired a second trip to many more countries, including Hungary, which I had studied very little. It was a fascinating visit. The food, the wine (best I’d ever tasted in the world, from the Szekszárd region), the sights, rivaled everything I had experienced in the Czech Republic.
I took a side trip to the Statue Museum, just a bit out in the countryside. It was an amazing sight. What to do with all those statues once you pull them down?
They propped them up, all in a field. There were paths and plaques and stories. And a funny gift shop, with interactive displays. It became a tourist attraction.
Of all the postings and media coverage of what is happening over the statues here in the United States, one comment in particular struck me — it was part of an argument from the “right” that is claiming that the statues should not come down, for fear of “losing the story” of the country’s history — fear of not telling the story. Which seems ironic, since so much of this country’s history has NOT been told, and certainly not adequately told.
Now I am by heritage and practice a story teller. This “lost story” argument is just folly. You tell a story out of choice, and out of reflection, and out of practice. You don’t need a monument to tell a story.
But should you believe you do need a monument to tell a story, it seems to me that a museum, a park, a walk around a field filled with all the monuments as the impetus to tell the story, with friends, family, or even going solo, if you are like me, prone to talk to yourself, is a decent way to use the statues. Fresh air, exercise, community, and sharing. Take a picnic. Enjoy the day.
Build a museum, someone will monetize it. There’s no risk this story won’t be told.
I do advise that before engaging in story telling though, that careful consideration be given to all versions of the story. Like children clamoring on the playground after an accidental mishap, or a deliberate act of bullying, versions of the story can become wildly variant. The truth is always in the intersection of all the versions, from every witness.