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Thomas Jefferson broods over the intersection of Lindell and DeBaliviere from the loggia of the museum named for him. Jefferson's legacy, though distant in time and place, is part of our shared story. Admirable genius that he was, he has certain qualities that we need not esteem but must admit. A replica of Charles Lindbergh's Spirit of St. Louis hangs over the Museumís Grand Hall. That airplane, or rather its original, became world famous, and its pilot was internationally adored. St. Louis laid claim to him as a local hero. Later his admiration for Nazi Germany's power, his isolationist stance before World War II, the taint of anti-Semitism altered his image. But it is the whole Lindbergh who is part of our story.
The museumís glass etching of Homer G. Phillips Hospital in the 1930s pictures a symbol less recognized and less accepted. But it tells of trial and triumph, an achievement over adversity that the African American community sensed from this hospitalís beginnings more than eighty years ago. With optimism, hard work, and determination, African Americans in St. Louis built this facility into a story of success and national eminence.
Jefferson and the Louisiana Purchase, Lindbergh and his Spirit of St. Louis have made the history books and earned a prominent place in our story. ďHomer GĒ shares that importance. It is a symbol we are proud to embrace.
(The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of St. Louis Public Radio.)
Bob Archibald is the President of the Missouri Historical Society