Let#8217;s use American tax money to rebuild a landmark and the people around it

Published 12:00 am Monday, January 14, 2008

After reading the recent “Your Turn” from the gentleman living in Georgia who is an alumnus of Hayden High School, I was reminded of a quote from the Bible that my grandmother, God rest her soul, used to repeat: “that man would grow wiser but weaker.”

It seems astonishing to me that in a time in our history that we in the United States enjoy the privilege of boasting the most college and high school educated population that our nation has ever had, we ignore the intellect that dictates the preservation of both our youth and history.

While I freely confess that I do not possess the eloquence of articulation that was so adamantly declared by the former resident of Franklin, I applaud his acquisition of such ability that was obviously contributed to by his experience at Hayden High School and its directive motivation. Personally I must rely on thoughts from those men who were much more intelligent than me. With that said I refer to another quote that says that “those who forget history are destined to repeat it.”

Hayden High School represents not just a history of segregation that most would be content to forget, but it also represents a present disdain for the community in which it stands. The school was not only named after Mrs. Della I. Hayden, but was a byproduct of Mrs. Hayden, one of the four greatest women to ever come from Virginia, in my opinion.

While it would be said that emotion has no place in business, it could also be said that emotion separates people from machines and culture from corporations.

The distinguished gentleman from Georgia expressed that taxpayer monies should not be used to save an old dilapidated building.

Well I contend that it was taxpayer monies that refurbished the city incubator project.

Also it is true that our taxpayer monies are used to rebuild schools in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I think it’s time we used American tax dollars to benefit Americans, particularly our youth through education both academically and culturally.

I believe that Hayden High School not only needs to be renovated, but it should be preserved as a Franklin historical landmark. It should be used to once again be an institution for education, this time as an integrated school for the performing arts and humanities.

We use tax money to build prisons to rehabilitate people.

Let us use tax money to rehabilitate a historical landmark into a school and perhaps our youth and people will not need to be rehabilitated.

It is true that Hayden High School served many of its students well, as proved by the gentleman living in Georgia that chose to leave our city.

However, it can serve an even greater purpose in renovation, as a school that represents integration for the purpose of the development of our area’s youth with gifts and talents that would otherwise go untrained or developed.

In a time that everyone wants to tear down and rebuild new things, let us build upon what we have that is both salvageable and historical.

Hayden High School’s historical value exists in more than a testament to its durable construction that has weathered neglect for decades while retaining a dignified exterior.

To the contrary, its historical value exists in its testament to Della I. Hayden’s commitment to educate a portion of our citizenry that had been omitted from the advantages of decent educational facilities afforded to others for the sole reason of the color of their skin.

Hayden High School’s preservation and restoration affords us the citizens of the area to face the shames of the past with an opportunity to transform a symbol of segregation into a shining example of progress and unity.

Let’s turn a lemon into lemonade.

The best example that I can think of to explain why Hayden is perfect to achieve this goal would be the way Jesus chose to use Saul, who persecuted his people, to transform into the apostle Paul to prove that indeed his sincerity and dedication as a renovated individual would better represent proof of a true effort opposed to creating a new profit.

Allow Hayden to be an opportunity to show Franklin and the surrounding areas efforts to come together to renew and renovate the Hayden High School property for the benefit of its historical value, while endeavoring it to elevate its goals and purposes through continued educational perseverance to serve our youth and community humanity.

This will be a true testament of sincerity to the memory of Della I. Hayden, the alumni, the community, the City of Franklin and the surrounding areas.

Gregory J. McLemore is a Franklin businessman. He can be reached at 560-8405.