Letters to the Editor

Rockwell

The cropped version of Derik Holtmann’s photo from the Belleville Zoning Board of Appeals that recently appeared on BND’s front page rang a bell.

I went scurrying to the Internet — I didn’t have to move too many electrons around before I found what I sought. Isn’t Al Gore’s invention wonderful?

My quest was not a photo but a 1943 oil painting by renowned artist-illustrator Norman Rockwell. This particular painting initially appeared in The Saturday Evening Post magazine and was later memorialized as a U.S. postage stamp.

Like the photo, Rockwell’s painting also involved one of our inalienable rights, freedom of speech, only on a grander scale. While Holtmann’s photo centered on the debate over Lindenwood student housing; Rockwell’s work was about Americans coming together to support a worthy cause — our WWII effort.

The painting, which was one of a series of four, was inspired by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s 1941 State of the Union address. Roosevelt identified four freedoms (speech, religion, from want and from fear) that he believed were essential human rights that should be universally protected.

A touring exhibition, which included the paintings, and subsequent sales drives raised over $132 million for war bonds.

It’s been more than 70 years since Rockwell’s painting debuted. Like the old TV cigarette commercial proclaimed, “You’ve [We’ve] come a long way, baby!” in terms of these four freedoms.

Depending who you talk to, just maybe not always in the right direction.

Bill Malec, O’Fallon

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