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Remember Religious Freedom

In his thoughtful defense of the White House of the Confederacy ("Landmark Decision," Arts & Culture, Nov. 17), Edwin Slipek Jr. says that "the Confederacy is Richmond's claim to being in the history books." It is certainly true that the Confederacy is a claim to history for Richmond, but there is another piece of Richmond's story that ranks as the most important idea in the creation of American democracy and that gives this city its best and noblest identification.

Richmond is the city that gave birth to the principle in law of complete religious freedom for every citizen. Thomas Jefferson's 1786 Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom served as the model for James Madison's draft of the First Amendment in our national Bill of Rights. The story of religious freedom in America from its beginnings to present day applications will be the theme of the new First Freedom Center, to be built at 14th and Cary streets, site of the old state capital where Jefferson's bill became a law.

The campaign to build the Center is well underway, and when the First Freedom Center opens, it will be the piece of Richmond's history which every man, woman and child in Richmond and throughout Virginia can turn to in their history books with gratitude and pride. Here is an enduringly powerful and positive association of international significance for Richmond — the city where our most fundamental human right was first articulated and protected.

Tommy P. Baer
Council for America's First Freedom

Place Has Meaning

I was born at MCV and raised just outside of Richmond. As a child growing up, the wealth of historical places seemed endless. Richmond was the capital of the Confederacy. This is a fact. I haven't lived in Richmond for many years now but have met many people who recognize Richmond's rich history and heritage. No Richmonder should ever take for granted Monument Avenue and what Richmond's role in the Confederacy means to other Americans and people around the world.

The idea of moving the Confederate White House to another location would be a huge mistake ("Landmark Decision," Arts & Culture, Nov. 17). These types of places have significant meaning because of their roles they played in our history. What is also significant is their location. Much of Richmond today reflects the Richmond of yesterday. This is a good thing. There are not many cities in our country that have the abundance of history and heritage that Richmond has.

You can't just move houses or battlefields to a more "appropriate place." If a house (for instance) has a unique style or materials but nothing really historical, then moving it would be OK. When you walk through the Jeff Davis White House or Mount Vernon or Monticello, you are not only in the same building that these great men lived, but the buildings themselves are at the same spot. Like Mr. Slipek said, you see the sun come through the window in exactly the same way that President Davis did.

I would hope that the people of Richmond have a say in this. I remember when I was growing up and the city was planning to pave over Monument Avenue. It would have happened if not for the tireless work of a handful of people. Paving the avenue would have made it smoother and ruined it forever. Step back and look at the big picture. Ask yourself: Is this progress?

Bob Holland
Carnation, Wash.

Liberalism Not Lost

Frederick T. Gray Jr. held my heart in his hands for a moment of reflection on the late '60s and early '70s when, as he so poignantly recalls: "Those were heady times. In our lifetimes, we confidently expected to end poverty and racial division at home, offering the world a practical lesson in toleration and democracy" (Back Page, Oct. 27).

He described our buoyant exuberance, our faith that America's youth could light the way to tolerance, understanding among all humans and progress. But, alas, the dreams were just that — dreams.

Though I am not one of his generation, I, too, felt the pulse of the times and marched to its beat. Faint but steady, however, the pulse beats on. And just as he divines, "... some generation must claim the legacy of America's great, optimistic liberal tradition...."

Zelda K. Nordlinger


In our Winter Fashion Quarterly, "Q," we misspelled the business name of the company that designed hair and makeup. Those services were provided by Doreen McCarthy at Wild Orchid with Aveda Products.

If approved by City Council Nov. 22, the city's downtown shuttle program Lunch Time Express would begin Dec. 6 not Dec. 1 ("Shuttle to Serve Downtown Diners," Street Talk, Nov. 17.) Style regrets the errors.

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