A July 16 editorial dealt with the city celebrating the first Gen. Anthony Wayne Day. Being a lifelong student of local history, I felt compelled to address a few of the errors in that editorial.
City Council passed the resolution declaring July 16 General Anthony Wayne day this year, not last. That meant the various groups and committees had roughly five months to plan events all across the city. An important step was the extension of multiple offers to the Miami Nation to join in planning, ensuring their voices would be heard and offering them what I believe would have been a valuable stage upon which they could share their perspectives and their cultural history. Every invitation was declined.
If the author of the editorial had contacted those planning the event or researched the scheduled events for the day, they would have discovered that several noted historians were present and included during the planning process. One historian lamented that the statue of Little Turtle isn’t featured more prominently; I agree.
The frontier undoubtedly had a complicated and bloody history, with numerous atrocities on both sides. There is not a single person in human history who is blameless, especially when viewed through the more focused lens of a society that has grown increasingly enlightened. The place of a true historian isn’t to judge, but to impartially unravel the facts and causes surrounding a particular conflict to better understand it so that we, as a society, might never have to repeat the same mistakes or injustices.
I believe the city’s first General Anthony Wayne Day was a great success that helped bring our local history into the spotlight in a fun, non-confrontational manner. Sometimes it is the victor who gets to write the history. But sometimes, those writing it are the ones who actually showed up to have the conversations necessary to fully understand it.