Russian-funded monument should go on USCG base


By Hezekiah Brown

Sunday, March 11, 2018

I am writing this letter stressing my strong opposition to the “Project Zebra” monument initiative. I am also a bit puzzled, and have mixed emotions about, the project because many of the individuals I know and have grown to respect are in favor of this project. Therefore, I have been struggling to understand my strong opposition to the construction of this 25-ton Russian monument in Elizabeth City.

Moreover, I believe that timing is everything, and in this instance, the timing obviously was not considered. Here is my dilemma, which has contributed to my opposition. If I am unable to understand and comprehend the reason and rationale for this project, I am not alone; there are many in the same boat I’m in. Most of the individuals I have spoken to are some of the most patriotic people I know. They understand that this joint “secret project” was approximately 73 years ago when the United States and Russia worked for a common project and some individuals lost their lives.

However, I have to look at what has happened since then. We have been at war with Russia every since then — from the Cold War to a near nuclear war during the Cuban Missile Crisis when the Russians were planting tactical nuclear weapons in Cuba aimed at the United States. Thanks to a strong President John F. Kennedy, that matter was resolved favorably without a nuclear war.

There have been numerous other instances prior to the recent alleged interference by Russia in our elections. What’s even worse is the fact that we are still challenged by what could happen in future elections, which further challenges our democracy.

The Russians have been quite successful in this intervention in our elections. They have us at war with each other, and now they have us at war in Elizabeth City over whether it’s appropriate to erect their monument in our Harbor of Hospitality. I am saddened by the cruel things this Russian project is permeating our community. It’s caused such strong emotional feelings and name-calling, including the questioning of some citizens’ patriotism.

I am not totally opposed to the monument. My opposition is based on its proposed location. This was a project that involved our U.S. Navy and British and Russian forces, not the citizens of Elizabeth City. Therefore, we should not let the Russians continue to create divisiveness in our local communities which then spills over into our country. I believe that the proper place for the monument is the U.S. Coast Guard Base. Because it is a neutral location, it can curtail all of the unnecessary conflict and controversy and allow us to continue to be good neighbors.

We can do better.

Hezekiah Brown is a resident of Elizabeth City.