Public Art At The Ohio Statehouse (IV)

The west entrance to the Ohio Statehouse is flanked by two large statues with military themes:  a World War I doughboy to the North, and a Spanish-American War ranger to the South.

The doughboy statue was erected in 1930 and is the work of Arthur Ivone. Like so many military statues, the doughboy features a plaque that expresses hope for peace.  The plaque states:  “To justice in war and lasting peace after victory.”

Although the statue depicts a soldier in full uniform and battle helmet, standing with a rifle, the soldier is in a curiously unmilitary pose.  He stands with one on hand on hip, holding the muzzle of the rifle while the butt rests against the ground.  In short, the soldier looks like he is about to do a quick pirouette on a fashion runway, or perhaps a few high kicks in a Parisian can-can line.  He would fit easily into the classic Monty Python skit about the dancing British soldiers.

The statute to the south, called “the Spirit of ’98,” is dedicated to veterans of the Spanish-American War, the “Philippine Insurrection,” and the “China Relief Expedition.”  The statue is the work of IL Jirush and was erected in 1928.  It depicts a ranger leaning forward with his uniform sleeves rolled up past his elbows, one foot on an outcropping of rock, the barrel of his rifle pointed downward, looking intently into the distance from beneath the brim of a floppy field hat.

The plaque on the base of this statue expresses somewhat more martial sentiments than those found on its companion.  It refers to “Freedom, Patriotism, Humanity” and includes the quotation “The cause which triumphed through their valor will live.”  When the plaque is considered now, decades later, it is not entirely clear what “cause” will live on — unless it is the “cause” of imperialism in which a brawny young country, eager to shoulder its way onto the world stage, briefly engaged.

Public Art At The Ohio Statehouse (III)

Public Art At The Ohio Statehouse (II)

Public Art At The Ohio Statehouse (I)

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Budget Fireworks

‘Tis the season for fireworks.  Columbus had its big Red White & Boom celebration last night.  The weather was perfect and big crowds turned out to ooh and aah at the sounds, colors, and combinations.

For many smaller communities, however, Fourth of July fireworks celebrations are being reduced or eliminated due to budget pressures.  In Gahanna, which is one of the communities adjacent to New Albany, officials have said that this year’s Freedom Festival fireworks show would have been canceled if the city hadn’t already put down a $10,000 deposit.  The city is facing enormous budget deficits if it doesn’t scale back its services; it has already cut its capital improvements budget to zero.  The city’s investment in the Creekside project — which is an attractive, but apparently underutilized, development along one of the city’s main streets — hasn’t produced the revenue that was anticipated.  Taxes could be raised, of course, but city officials are sensing that residents are experiencing “tax fatigue” and therefore may not support additional levies.  So if the city won’t be patching potholes or filling vacancies, how can it justify using scarce funds for fireworks displays?

It’s sad when communities can’t support traditional Independence Day activities, but in this recessionary period civic leaders have to be realistic.  Fourth of July celebrations aren’t essential city services and in central Ohio there are lots of other options for fans of fireworks.  Gahanna’s decision is unfortunate, but not difficult.