(p. A23) Central Park in New York has two Columbus statues, one a 76-foot-tall whopper at, um, Columbus Circle. The park is a sort of mass market for historical markers — 29 statues, along with multitudinous plaques, busts, carved panels and memorial groves. Most of them are accompanied by critics. A park official once told me the only noncontroversial statue on the premises was Balto, the hero sled dog.
Balto was famous for bringing critical diphtheria serum to the then almost unreachable town of Nome, Alaska, in the winter in 1925. He was a real celebrity in his time. But I am sorry to tell you that he actually has had detractors.
“It was almost more than I could bear when the ‘newspaper dog’ Balto received a statue for his ‘glorious achievements,'” sniped sled driver Leonhard Seppala, whose team ran the longest stretch of the 674-mile Serum Run. Seppala felt very strongly that his lead dog, Togo, was the true hero of the day.
On your behalf I have been looking into this controversy, and I would say it’s possible Togo’s cheerleaders had a point.
For the full commentary, see:
Collins, Gail. “Dogs, Saints and Columbus Day.” The New York Times (Sat., Oct. 7, 2017): A23.
(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date Oct. 6, 2017,)