A resolution that would have named Mike Sterling official town council for the purpose of obtaining an opinion from the State Attorney General on whether the WWI plaque in the library could be moved failed unanimously. The plaque, which lists citizens of Northampton that died in the Great War, has been hung in the library for 92 years. Members of the library board took offense to the plaque because the soldier’s names are broken out by “white” and “colored”. The resolution would have meant that taxpayers would have had to fund the legal fees.
A disturbing part of Sterling’s request was whether the plaque could be covered by a “shroud”:
If the WWI Memorial Plaque is subject to the protections of Virginia Code § 15.2- 1812, whether the Town may place a cover or shroud over it and only display the WWI Memorial Plaque upon request.
Councilman Steve Bennett said that he found the whole thing, especially the language about the shroud, offensive. “These men made the ultimate sacrifice, and the idea that we would remove or cover their names is repulsive…Why are we the ones having to do this? The burden of proof should be on the Library Board, not us. Let them pay for it.”
Town Manager DiRe noted that the offended members of the Library Board have threatened legal action if the plaque was not removed. “Good. Let them,” was Bennett’s response.
Bennett offered an alternative solution, to pay to have the plaque recast, listing the names of the fallen in alphabetical order.