With my lower 48(ish) state road trip, how entirely appropriate to research, visit and write a post about the MONUMENT OF STATES- 300 E. Monument Ave., Kissimmee, FL?
I love the history behind this piece.
When Pearl Harbor was attacked in 1941 and catapulted the United States into the second world war, Dr. Charles Bressler-Pettis had an idea to create a symbol of unity in the country. He wrote a letter to President Franklin Roosevelt and every state’s governor, requesting that they send him a rock (I guess FDR’s came from D.C.?). The monument was first completed and dedicated in March of 1943. After Hawaii and Alaska joined the country, their rocks as well as the rocks from other countries (some from the doctor and his wife’s collection from various vacations) were added to the tower, even years after the doctor’s death.
There are rumors that one contributor sent a human skull, though I did not find it. I’m curious which state’s governor mistook a skull for a rock. After experiencing different drivers in different states, I have my suspicions.
Of course, a 50-foot tall, 30 ton tower of different rocks and names was a bigger deal back in the 1940s. Since then, Disney World, Universal Studios, Sea World, Medieval Times, and thousands of other attractions drew the Kissimmee tourists away from the monument. The heat and humidity of the south began peeling at the work of art, and very few people noticed.
… until September 11, 2001, when the United States was once again attacked on its own soil.
The need for a sense of unity once again arose. In response, Hampton Inn and AAA South collaborated to refurbish the monument. It’s interesting how we turn to a strange little thing as an old rock collection for connection and security. It’s as if there was a need for the reminder that if we can survive that, we WILL survive this.
… and we did.
… only now airport security sucks. Perhaps we should have taken the 30 ton monument and dropped it on Bin Laden’s head. Or added his skull to the top of the flagpole.
Too far? I should have left the sentimental ending, shouldn’t I? Oh well.
Until next time, dahlings…