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made right call on seal

A while back we weighed in on what we perceived as assaults on tradition in the name of political correctness. One example concerned the attempts by some in Groton to amend the official town seal.

Some of the town’s more progressive residents expressed their uneasiness about the seal’s makeup, which contains the words “Holy Bible,” “Faith” and “Labor.” They apparently felt such sentiments didn’t square with current all-inclusive sensibilities.

They obviously believed mention of the words Bible and faith would seem threatening to some, who we presume would point out the separation of church and state enshrined in our Constitution.

Lost in all this humanist hand-wringing was a sense of history, especially ironic in a town so steeped in it. The town seal also displays the year of Groton’s founding, 1655. That date predates by more than a century not only the federal Constitution but our state’s Constitution,drafted by John Adams in 1780. And so for Groton’s earliest settlers, the Bible and faith formed the bedrock of their beliefs, and no doubt sustained them through some trying ordeals.

So at the time we encouraged Groton residents to express their opinions at Town Meeting, where we believed a sense of history would prevail — and the seal preserved. And that’s exactly what occurred at Monday’s session of Town Meeting, where voters resoundingly rejected an article to form a committee to study and recommend changes to the town seal.

The arguments to retain the seal were heartfelt, and contained that sense of history the article’s authors sought to erase. One resident mentioned his family’s Bible, which moved down through generations over hundreds of years, and that now is on display at the Peabody Essex Museum. Like the town seal, that Bible is both a symbol of faith and a historical document.

And that sense of place need not go back hundreds of years for it to be fully embraced. A letter to the editor described one family’s attachment to the town that “only” went back to 1927. But it conveyed a sense of pride in service to the town, whether by enlisting in the armed forces or overseeing the town’s public safety departments. As that writer eloquently stated, “There is no need to rewrite, review or solicit any design for a new town seal. Teach that. Don’t change it.”

And that’s what we’d suggest to the maker of that motion. Sure, those who see Groton as just another well-heeled bedroom community might feel uncomfortable with that seal, and yes, all of us obviously must adjust to the changing times. But our heritage shouldn’t be uprooted to accommodate current fashion. That’s what Groton Town Meeting made emphatically clear Monday night.

Apparently the author never realized the town seal contained the word Bible until he saw it on a town-issued trash bag, and so questioned the appropriateness of it in that context.

We’d refer him to a sermon by the Anglican cleric and theologian John Wesley, given in 1778, in which he referred to cleanliness as next to godliness.