Letter to the Editor

The right thing

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

My sister who was planning on visiting here with her family this summer called me about 10 days ago with a complaint.

If you go to google maps search for Godfather's Pizza in Spirit Lake, a map of the area comes up with all the sites worth visiting. Well one of those sites is the "First White Girl born in Dickinson County" marker.

I could not believe it, I had no idea that such a marker exists. Well, good readers, it does. It was placed in September 1937 by the DAR and it is displayed on the DAR Spirit Lake webpage.

Now there are ways of announcing a live birth without insulting people. That the marker was placed in the heyday of DAR bigotry is a fact; that nobody in the DAR sees anything wrong with such a marker today is a wonderment. I have emailed the DAR locally and statewide and those dear-heart dowagers wrote back asking what was my objection.

The DAR has dirty hands in this instance. Here is an example of their history. The first person of color to perform at the Metropolitan Opera was denied admission to a DAR owned venue in Washington, D.C. in 1939 because the audience was going to be integrated. Marion Anderson was a huge recital talent. So insulted was Elinor Roosevelt that she had her husband open up the Lincoln Memorial to 75,000 of his closest friends for her Washington, D.C. recital.

Now we have a vestigial of bigotry that gives me pause. Especially from the local vendors end, the tourist market in this county is a $400 million economic engine and seeing a marker that implies that the color of your birth is somehow superior to all other births is worthy of ridicule; that it is bad for business goes without saying. Now I expect that the marker will be changed by summer tourist season. As getting that awful publicity off of Google Maps is the goal here. My suggestion is that there be a learning moment to come from this. I will sponsor the replacement of the marker and hopefully one of the middle grades in the area will take hold of this and come up with a better way of announcing a live birth. I will keep you in the loop good readers as today I kicked a wasp's nest.

Mike Miller