Polio mural wall

The Hickory City Council offered the wall behind the Hickory Music Factory, pictured here, for a mural commemorating the Miracle of Hickory.

ERIC MILLSAPS/ REGIONAL EDITOR

Eric Millsaps

If Hickory City Council sought a place to hide a mural commemorating our miraculous response to a 1944 polio outbreak here, they found the right spot.

Council voted last week to place the mural on the back wall of the Hickory Music Factory.

I drove out to the chosen wall the next day.

It does not take long to see that this is a lousy choice.

The wall is crumbling. No one can see it from the highway and have their interest piqued. The wall faces a little-used children’s playground.

If the mural goes here, I would be surprised if 500 people would see it in a year. Council says this is a better spot for the mural than a downtown wall viewed by that many people in a day.

Seriously.

To be fair, this is the spot where the 1944 Miracle of Hickory took place. This is the place where a hospital was erected in 54 hours in response to a polio epidemic. This is the place where arguably the greatest story in Hickory’s illustrious history took shape.

But this is no longer a spot where people congregate. This is the back wall of a building on the outskirts of the city.

Yes, our city leaders insist that Riverwalk will lead people to the mural. The route will not place people in sight of the mural, but there will be a sign directing them to it – at least that is the promise.

Riverwalk is years from completion. This mural is ready to move forward now.

Sister Helen Prejean, the author of “Dead Man Walking,” has a quote that my pastor references nearly every Sunday.

She says, “I watch what I'm doing to see what I believe.”

Judging by city council’s action, it appears our leaders believe the Miracle of Hickory mural is not something to be celebrated. Instead, they believe the artwork should be relegated to the back wall of a building far from the city's center in Union Square.

That’s a disappointing decision to me. I can only imagine how the polio survivors feel.

Eric Millsaps is editor of the Hickory Daily Record.

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