Colosseums of our Lives-preserving The Sunbowl.

I am new to St. George.  Well, let me rephrase that.  I drove past St. George for the first time back in 1974.  It was much smaller and far more quaint than it is today.  Back in the early 1990s I spent several days here as the chairman of a Utah City Manager’s Association conference, which preceded the Utah League of Cities and Towns annual St. George Conference.

Then a couple of years ago I moved here to settle.

For all intents and purposes I am a newcomer to St. George.  I have no ancestry here.

Now, (and I usually keep this private) I will share some of my religious background.  I joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) when I was a teenager.  That was after three and a half years of missionaries coming to our home.  (My mom loved to cook, and simply would not hear of “those fine young men” fixing their own meals).  They were at dinner at least 3 times a week for three plus years.  They didn’t object.  However, I digress.

Before joining the Church I spent one or two full days with every clergy member in my upstate New York hometown.  There were many.  I interviewed each one with a series of questions about their church.  When I was done I knew a fair bit about several churches.  Yet, I still waited another full year before making a decision about which to officially join.

As of now, I am still very open to learn about various religious groups.  I enjoy being educated about their beliefs, (unless they are into satanic worship and the like).  However, with full admission I am not open to conversion to any of them.  That matter was settled for me many and many a year ago.

Why am I blathering on about my experiences with St. George and how I came to affiliate with the LDS Church?

Allow me to wander just a bit further.  Part of the answer to that question is because I get highly amused at comments made to numerous articles in the Salt Lake Tribune.  A sizable portion of those comments contain the sentiment that “The State, The City, The Team, The Legislature, ad nausea are controlled by the LDS Church.”  I only wish that were true!  Then we would have far more leaders of integrity serving in high places.”

Yet, the salient point is that wanderers like me bounce into Utah and expect the social structure and beliefs to bend to our will.  Far too many of us get our knickers in a bind because the culture has been molded before we were born and won’t yield to our temper tantrums of intolerance.

There is another old cliché’ I am reminded of, “when in Rome, do as the Romans do”.  Being mildly obstinate (just ask my dear wife) I bristle at that phrase.

When in Rome, you need not do as the Romans do.  However, when in Rome, acknowledge that Rome is the Roman’s home.

In St. George there are a few folks that will trade The Sunbowl for a parking lot, because foresight is lost in trying to establish a bigger tax base.  Those discussions have been held in private without the benefit of full sunlight.  What concerns me is that some modern interlopers, like myself, acquainted with sky rise developments are making decisions to “tear the sun down bring in a couple more scars upon the past” (in paraphrase of John Denver).

The Sunbowl is Dixie’s Colosseum.  When the Christians came to Rome, even in the mistreatment, they found no cause to tear down the Colosseum.  They did not need the bricks and mortar of the Colosseum to build St. Peter’s Basilica and/or  the Vatican.  They were able to be “in Rome” without “tearing Rome asunder” literally or with personal intolerance.

We ought to also be able to build upon the foundation of the history of the Sunbowl, rather than upon the ashes of it’s memory piled at the base of the “stake of modern progress” upon which it was burned.

To boast, with more than my “worthy” share vanity, I have spent three decades assisting to preserve historically significance porperties.  It began in my home town in upstate New York, and has been a prevalent component of my efforts in nearly every place I have lived since.  I played a small part in preserving an old high school in Riverton.  Likewise, I play a role in preserving an old Harvey House/Train Depot in California.  I participated in securing one of four pilot grants from the Utah Legislature for historic preservation.  The list is longer, but my boasting shall end at this point.

Long ago I learned an important lesson about preservation.  Honoring historic features of a community is essential to maintaining the social merits of a community.  The current generation, and I do not mean singularly just “us” but rather every “current” generation, is the link between the past and the future.

We should be striving to honor both the past and the future generations.  In every society that has ever existed, their collapse came when the place they came from was forgotten.  Any society built solely upon what is important to the present generation, or corresponding, important only to the future or past generation will flounder without direction.  If you doubt me, just look around at the national rejection of our Constitutional foundation.  We have rejected what was once honored, and as a consequence our days of joy on this earth are neither long nor full.  Future generations WILL suffer an even worse fate.

We are the current generation that can, AND SHOULD, be the line that connects the past to the future, rather than the sub-culture that focuses on  the space between the two.

I have no vested historic interest in the preservation of the Sunbowl.  YET, I have a consummate interest in preserving what was valued by the many people who have tales to tell, remembrances to recall, and smiles to share about a time when the Sunbowl was their Colosseum.  I MUST set aside my wolfish interloper’s sheep clothing, if only to stand as a solitary voice howling in behalf of those who built this monument.

Two days ago I stood in the middle of the gladiator’s field of the Sunbowl.  For a moment I closed my eyes, and opened my heart.  In the distance I heard the roar of the crowd on cement seats, cheering with enthusiasm.  What I could not tell about that distant sound was whether it was the fading to a cry from the abandoned past or the growing  thrill of future generations.

If we are truly fortunate as a society, we will all hear that echo, and know it originates from both yesterday and tomorrow.

Join with me to proclaim your support for the preservation of Sunbowl.


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