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Celebrating July 4th

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By Donald Kirk

Most people hardly need reminders of their mortality. Mere mortals know there's a time to live and a time to die, but surely a statue should insure immortality in history if not in person. Not so, as Americans are reminded in assaults on statues of people seen as bad guys, traitors, villains to be dumped onto the ash heap of history, no longer venerated as heroes in stone or bronze.

Attacks on statues have a long history. Red Guards on the rampage in China in the 1960s and 1970s destroyed hundreds of reminders of people they hated. Russian mobs tore down statues of Vladimir Lenin after the demise of the Soviet Union 70 years after he had arisen in triumph as the communist regime's first leader. The statue of Saddam Hussein in a circle in Baghdad beneath a hotel where I stayed was toppled after U.S. troops invaded Iraq in 2003. In Afghanistan, the Taliban in 2001 blew up ancient images of Lord Buddha that were more than mere statuary. They were revered works of art, irreplaceable and irretrievable, even if the Taliban called them "idols."

So it is that tomorrow, July 4, Americans commemorate the signing on July 4, 1776, of........

© The Korea Times