Thank you so much for your article in the Sunday paper regarding the mural to be painted that commemorates the 75th anniversary of Hickory's miraculous response to the polio epidemic of 1944. You ended your article stating that "judging by the 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."
As a polio survivor myself, I went to a polio survivors meeting this week because I wanted to see how they felt about it and the general feeling was that were insulted! You cannot blame them. Even though I was not of that era but was born and had polio later, I am still so proud that a tiny town like Hickory was able to respond to such a tragedy, pull together and create an emergency hospital in order to treat polio victims from all over Hickory and the surrounding areas with people who came from all over the United States in just 54 hours! What a miracle! Why are they not proud to portray that wonderful story to everyone who comes here? Especially on this 75th year! That is what the polio survivors that were treated there want and they want it to happen NOW, this year, on the anniversary year, not years from now when a wall can be repaired and a Riverwalk be built. The mural should be in a prominent place announcing what a miracle happened here with a celebration of the 75th year and in addition a museum built at the site!
Also, I learned today that there are some who do not like the artwork. When I first saw a picture in the paper depicting the artwork, I was immediately struck by the story it portrayed and the fact that it was done in the art of the era. I felt so proud and happy with it, both as a polio survivor and a neonatal intensive care nurse, that I took a picture of it and sent it to my sister who is a physician's assistant living and working in the Asheville area. She thought it was wonderful! It is a bright wonderful picture that tells a wonderful story of healing and promise for everyone.
During the polio epidemics, polio was something to be feared and shameful. It was something to be kept secret. Now we know what caused it. A virus that can be prevented. No longer something to be swept under the rug. Hickory should not sweep their miracle under a rug or put it on a back burner. They should put it out there for the world to see and say, 'Look what we did and be so very proud of such a legacy!'
Eva B. Helton
Eva noted in her letter that she grew up on Snow Creek Road in Hickory.