Monument footnote could help

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Honoring history requires that we remember all of history, the good, the bad and the downright horrible.

The latter is a feeble attempt at describing the Rhythm Club Fire that claimed more than 200 lives in 1940.

The City of Natchez’s recent decision to leave a more than 70-year-old memorial to the fire victims in place is noteworthy.

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City officials briefly considered a request to relocate the memorial from the public site on the Natchez bluffs to the actual site of the fire, which is private property and home of a great new museum dedicated to the fire.

Ultimately city officials decided to respect the wishes of the people who raised the funds necessary to erect the monument. Those people chose the bluff to make certain the monument — and the horrible fire that it notes — always receives public attention and that the decades of time will not dull our hearts to the pain the fire caused to a generation of Natchez residents.

The monument issue does, however, raise interesting questions that often linger in the minds of tourists who see the monument on the bluff and wonder: Where was the original site of the fire?

Although public funds should not be used to promote the location of a private museum, it might be appropriate to add something near the bluff top monument to help answer those questions for tourists and perhaps put the club’s original location into perspective.

Adding some sort of footnote near the existing monument could provide needed information without interfering with the monument’s austerity and history.