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The Right Note: What’s in a Name?

by Mark Kelly June 28, 2018 at 3:45 pm 0

The Right Note is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

I have not really weighed in about the renaming of Washington-Lee High School for a number of reasons. In the final analysis, if in their infinite wisdom the members of the School Board decide to rename this school, then they have the ability to do so. They do have to make the decision realizing they will face the fallout from the voters, particularly the alumni, many of whom from across the political spectrum vehemently disagree with this exercise.

As part of the discussion when the School Board approved the name change process, Monique O’Grady held up a W-L shirt and said “Celebrating your school pride should not mean having to wear a shirt like this one that honors a person who may not share your values.” In so doing, she effectively ruled out naming any future schools after people. It would be extremely tough, if not impossible, to find any person who could receive unanimous support throughout the county.

O’Grady may eventually backtrack from that statement. We may find out what O’Grady meant is that no one who does not share “her” values should find their name on an Arlington school.

Yesterday, ARLnow also ran a story about a local activist who is adamant that the county should remove Arlington House from its logo because it once belonged to Robert E. Lee. Of course, Arlington County was named after Arlington House. Under this logic, it might be time to rename the whole county.

What would renaming Arlington County end up looking like? Under the O’Grady standard, Arlington cannot be named after any people. So, here is a list of suggestions for the new county name based on the standard talking points from the County Board: Diverse, Inclusive, Progressive, Welcoming, World Class.

Or, maybe we could sell annual naming rights to the county to boost revenue or lower tax rates. Trader Joe’s, Virginia anyone? Or possibly, we could change the name to attract new businesses. Right now, for instance, we could change the name to Amazon.

Sure, no one has seriously suggested doing so… yet. But, it is the logical conclusion of the argument.

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