Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Stalin & Tip O'Neill ?

There's an unseemly hurry to rename the Cape Cod National Seashore's year round Salt Pond Visitor's Center after former U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Thomas P. "Tip" O'Neill, Jr.

The problem is that in comparison to a few others, O'Neill's contribution to the creation of the Cape Cod National Seashore was minor. U.S. Rep. Hastings Keith & U.S. Senators Leverett Saltonstall & John F. Kennedy sponsored and pioneered the legislation that created the national park. Further important influences were authors Henry David Thoreau (Cape Cod, 1865) and Henry Beston (The Outermost House, 1928). Although 2012 is the centennial of O'Neill's birth, he's already well-remembered and officially memorialized in assorted other projects, including the Thomas P. O'Neill, Jr. Library at Boston College, the Thomas P. O'Neill, Jr. Tunnel of  Routes 93, 1 & 3 (Central Artery) through Boston, and the Thomas P. O'Neill Jr. Federal Building.

It seems unwise to force local people to adopt such name changes. Projects meant to weather the ages should stand above short-term political expediency and partisan brown-nosing. In my opinion, the USA saw far too many things named after actor-President Ronald Reagan. The USSR named many things after Stalin. People hesitate to say "No."

The passage of time, a different sense of reason, or more forthright opposition may lead to another future change of name. Simmering conflict becomes rather insulting...

Best family members of Tip O'Neill decline the honor, or request others be memorialized.

Stalingrad, formerly Tsaritsyn, is now named Volgograd.
Leningrad has been Petrograd and is now Saint Petersburg.