(Prepared Remarks of Mayor Joseph Boles, May 14, 2011 at Dedication of St. Augustine Civil Rights Foot Soldiers' Monument -- Speech As Delivered Was Ever Better -- the Mayor Ad Libbed).
First, let me tell you how pleased I am to be the Mayor of the Nation's Oldest City. This is your City and I am your Mayor. There are so many days when I am so proud of this City and its people - but today will be one of our shining moments.
Today, May 14th, will forever stand as the day we say no more will we let ignorance rule the day. No more will hatred hold sway. No more will we stand silent when our brothers and sisters cried out for justice and no more will we be afraid to tell our City's story lest we lessen our reputation. The truth is always the best story.
This City along with our entire country allowed a set of rules to exist that victimized and stigmatized many people we all knew and cared for, but fear held many at bay. In this, the freest country in the world, and in St. Augustine, this Nation's Oldest City, freedom would not be denied.
It is this group of brave Foot Soldiers in the war for freedom and equality, the St. Augustine Foot Soldiers, that we honor today. When the Foot Soldiers monument is unveiled later today we are saying that we recognize and commiserate not only the Civil Rights Movement almost 50 years ago - we are also reminding those that come after us that we shall never pass this way again.
So, our millions and millions of visitors that come to see this monument will know that it represents:
(1) The strength and fortification of the hearts of the Foot Soldiers no less than the fort walls of the Castillo de San Marcos.
(2) They will remember those that passed through the taunts and jeers, rocks, bricks and stones because their hearts were as open to the promise of peace as we keep our City Gates open to the world.
(3) This monument will stand as a shining beacon of struggle and survival of those that risked all with their inner light casting a beacon no less powerful than our own St. Augustine Lighthouse.
(4) Finally, they will see this monument next to the Old Slave Market where evil held forth in the diatribes and hate speech of the KKK during the marches and they will know that this blessed event is designed to exorcise that nightmare.
So, from your City let me first congratulate you on this accomplishment and let me also apologize for the past from every Mayor who came before me and after. Let the healing continue.