Our Opinion: Premature battle lines on statue

Battle lines being drawn concerning the location of a military statue are premature.

The life-size bronze of a military man is dedicated to the “more than 10,000 Missouri volunteers who served” in the Spanish-American War at the turn of the 20th century, according to the inscription.

The memorial is located in a roadside park between Missouri Boulevard and U.S. 50 near staples.

The idea of moving the statue has been raised as work begins to relocate and expand the Missouri National Guard’s Museum of Military History at the Ike Skelton Training Site.

The concept is in its infancy.

As retired Guard officer and current volunteer Bill Ratliff wrote in a letter published Sunday: “The Missouri Society for Military History has been quietly conducting a feasibility study of whether to someday, maybe, possibly consider moving the (statue).”

The concept, however, already has generated some opposition, most notably from Jefferson City officials.

The City of Jefferson Facebook site posted a picture on Aug. 26 of the statue with the caption: “Do you recognize this man? Probably so but do you know who he is and why he is standing there? A proposal being considered by the state would move him from his current station to somewhere indoors. Do you support that?”

The city followed up with an Aug. 28 posting that read: “The rumor is, stress rumor, that MoDOT (Missouri Department of Transportation) wants to sell the land and that is why they are looking for a home for the statue and monuments.”

The rumor is false. A MoDOT spokesman said the agency has no plans to sell the property or close the roadside park. The highway department has forwarded objections to the Guard.

And, to clarify the city’s initial posting, the proposed move has not been advanced by the state, nor does the proposal specify an indoor location.

Ratliff concludes his letter: “Although some city and county officials are already on record against moving the statue, our study will continue and we will eventually present our findings and recommendations to the adjutant general. We do not know if the statue will ever be moved, but we think doing the study is worth the effort.”

We also believe the study is worth the effort. And, in view of relocation and expansion of the museum, it is timely.

Jefferson City, Cole County and other interested entities may have valid objections to relocation, but objections deserve to be based on facts and the results of the feasibility study, not on reflexive reactions to rumors.

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