R.I.P. Pioneer Mother (University of Oregon, 1932-2020)

Phyllis Beveridge Nissila

Pioneer Mother monument, University of Oregon

In this season of rioting and vandalism across the United States posing as–and usurping– peaceful, legal protests, tearing down monuments along with destroying inner cities is now one of the political causes célèbres  in town squares, remembrance parks, and government facilities and grounds.

College campuses, birthplaces, historically, of many causes célèbres, are not spared, either, such as the University of Oregon where the monument pictured above, “Pioneer Mother,” was pulled down this past weekend.

Propagandists might attempt to spin the narrative to obscure the crimes–or even to somehow validate them–but unless the observor is a small child or in some way cognitively impaired and/or brain washed, everyone understands a crime is a crime.

The reason for the vandalism, of course, is politics.

But, really? The Pioneer Mother monument?

I don’t even want to know what gave the vandals their twenty-minute fix of destruction to feel part of the PC “hip, slick, and cool crowd.”

Did they become suddenly enraged because she was (presumably) the wrong skin color (or because she was “white” and “silent”)?

Because she had, God forbid, a Bible in her lap?

Because she most likely understood, back then, influenced by, well, all time, there are only two biological sexes and claimed that of “female”?

Because she was most likely praying that her children would LIVE beyond the age of five, back in the nineteenth century, not that she could, at will, abort them in the womb?

Because she was apparently, presumably, somehow part of only the worst of the worst who have gone before us in Oregon, thus, her memory must be destroyed?…

If any of the vandals, especially the young women present, understood the culture and challenges of the Pioneer Mother’s day and age, which were formidable when one actually reads primary-source historical material, they would not be attempting to destroy her memory, but they would honor it.

But I say to all there, and elsewhere, please don’t judge the Pioneer Woman yet, in the heat of today’s 2020-centric political climate.

Please take a few minutes, away from the flames and fury, to recognize in the symbolism of this monument the noble, courageous, strong “everywoman” of eras and cultures past who forged through dangers and challenges “PC hipsters” of today will never know–unless, of course, the lawless ones are left to continue burning, looting, and destroying and history repeats itself. Pioneer Mother would, then, have much to teach those remaining about sheer survival, politics be damned…

I can only hope and pray that age and wisdom catch up with the college kids before the designs of others, who actually WANT the destruction of our nation, succeed in usurping all that youth and energy to destroy all the good parts of this nation, and of Oregon.

But for now, this University of Oregon alumnus (1968-1971), for the record, will honor the Pioneer Mother in what way I can by resisting the contemporary PC “cancel” crowd and by mourning the loss of this monument to all that was resilient, courageous, and wise in all such women from generations past. And all such men, too, for that matter.

I will also, once again, take a lesson from her as well: to persevere–amid and beyond whatever misguided causes célèbres would render what she symbolizes null and void–with the hope that the next generations will also understand, and learn from, her strength, resist the destruction of monuments to same, and not, in the heat of the politics of the moment, destroy but embrace all that was good, noble, and life-giving in her and in all the people we honor in our art and in our memory.

For without the awareness of also the best of mankind and womankind to inspire and guide us into the future, what do we have to aspire to and with which to make the most of our own lives? What is left once the rubble and dust settle?

Rest in peace, Pioneer Mother.

The memory and inspiration of your fortitude, faith, and fearlessness is safe with me.


Image of Pioneer Mother monument from Wikimedia Commons

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