Time to retire Colonels name to make way for a new BUHS identity

BRATTLEBORO — As the son of a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army, I have never had a problem with the title “colonel.” I have had many a former student play for the Colonels, and I have cheered on “purple” from the stands many a time.

In 2004, when the Brattleboro Union High School board ended any official use of the image of a Southern plantation–based slave-owning “colonel” as the school mascot image, it also ended the display of the Confederate flag and the slogan “Pride of the South.”

These were, I believe, good decisions. These decisions were made in the context of other racially charged incidents at the school and in the community.

It is unfortunate that the BUHS board did not commission in 2004 a process to create a new colonel logo, one that could reflect a history different from the Southern plantation, or a non-historical, abstract vision of a colonel as a symbol of leadership.

Without a replacement image, I am afraid the old colonel's picture as a plantation character continues to weigh us down with its baggage acquired over the years.

Isaac Watts wrote in the 18th century, “Our age to 70 years is set.” Before the Colonels, the high school teams in Brattleboro had other names.

All things do pass. It seems that our BUHS mascot is ready to pass away and make way for something new to gain respect over time.

Recently, I stopped at the beautiful monument that stands in front of BUHS and received a powerful history lesson.

Perhaps the memory of the “ten thousand, two hundred” volunteers who camped on the old fairgrounds between 1861 and 1865 before they headed off to fight for the U.S. republic and its ideals could inspire a new era for our sports teams: the Brattleboro Volunteers.

And what better color than purple to recognize their bravery and sacrifice in the ongoing fight for liberty, equality, and justice for all?

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