A few days ago I had the honor to witness the unfolding of a history-making event in Arlington (TX), and that event got me thinking.
On Monday 30th, 2015 the Arlington Independent School District (AISD hereafter) board met at the Fielder’s Baptist Church to name four schools after six honorable people, among them former State Representative Diane Patrick.
If you’re not familiar with Rep. Patrick, class 1946, she has always been involved with education, first as a teacher, then as school district trustee. Then, as a State Representative, she fought hard for education, including sponsoring SB376 which aimed to provide free breakfast for students (passed 73-58). You can read her voting record on Project Vote Smart (click here). Her wikipedia page is here.
At the AISD board meeting it was displayed a short video shot when AISD President Bowie Hogg told Rep. Patrick that a school was going to be named after her. I think that it took a second for her to realize that it wasn’t a joke, that she was going to be publicly honored.
It was at the meeting that she was informed that Timber Oaks Elementary School was going to be named after her, and the whole scene was priceless. She stepped on the stage visibly moved, and excited. More importantly, in her speech she rightly underscored how a united AISD board is making Arlington (TX) a much better city, and how education is important for each and every city that strives to create new leaders.
Now, what got me thinking is the symbology of the whole thing. Right before the meeting I got to chat a little bit with Dr. Aaron Reich, AISD Trustee and apparently an admirer of Walt Disney as I am, who told me a glaring truth: “[The naming] is very important; it means a lot to them, it means a lot to Arlington, and it means a lot to us.”
Why is this true? As I said, there is a highly symbolical value behind naming a building after a person. Buildings are meant to exist forever, to be the long standing witnesses of important events, extraordinary people, and great civilizations. Rationally, we all know that a building won’t last forever, but in face of symbology, rationality is a secondary tool. By attaching a name to a building we are in fact prolonging not only the life of a person, but we are impacting society as a whole. We are saying that what the person fought for is immortal, that his beliefs transcend time, and his actions should be seen as an example to all of us.
As a matter of fact, naming an elementary school should give the impression that generations and generations should take care of what has been fought for, of all the pains and all the successes. Architectural features are an unmistakable reminder of that.
I can only imagine how proud Rep. Patrick might be. For me, as a public servant, this was an amazing reminder of how our job fits into a bigger design, and how many lives we touch without even realizing it. We should all strive to have a building named after us because if we think like that we will know which battle is worth fighting.