-By Doc Lawrence-
Good triumphs over evil. It’s a story you look for and one just manifested in the historic Village of Stone Mountain, the lovely town beside the mighty granite monolith in one of the country’s most visited parks.
|Restoration Team Declares Victory|
Mindless vandals defaced a magnificent mural hovering protectively above the lovely town since its dedication in late summer of 2012. Yes, the filth and venom painted over the positive images of the city, its churches, cemetery, theater, ancient homes and memorials at first served the intended purpose: revulsion, sadness and deeply felt outrage. There were two choices: paint over the mural and hide the destruction, or, restore it.
One choice would obviously award evil a trophy.
The mural rests along a large wall of a pavilion on one of the most magnificent tracts of greenspace anywhere. The facility and land is owned and maintained by Stone Mountain First Baptist Church, one of Georgia’s oldest congregations. Over the years, the pavilion has hosted dinners, Christmas pageants, free movies for the public and will again be the site of a giant Easter egg hunt for children. The mural chronicles the city’s heritage and is a testament to the power of community.
|The Work Begins|
The idea for the mural originated with two local leaders who engaged Georgia artist Olivia Thomason, also a city resident, to lead and design the project. Over a period of sweltering summer weeks the mural took shape, with initial painting done by school children throughout the Atlanta region, local citizens, church members with Ms. Thomason always helping and working, often on a scaffold with paints and brushes at her side.
The entire project was a volunteer effort.
The finished mural incorporated the profound humanity of the village. “The painting,” said Ms. Thomason, “was a gift to the city.” In 2012, on a brilliant late summer Sunday, the mural was dedicated with dinner on the grounds, choir music and a speech and prayer by Dr. Dan Parker, an author, revered Baptist minister and close friend of Ms. Thomason. The diverse audience exemplified the majesty of inclusion. Frank Spence, a retired PR executive with the Atlanta Braves and the Atlanta Falcons attended and remembered the mural and dedication ceremony “as the South at its very best.”
|2012 Dedication Ceremony|
Five years after the dedication, on an early spring day in the Deep South, evil struck out. Sadly, the dark forces will be back somewhere, tossing bricks into a storefront window or a windshield, breaking into homes or desecrating a cemetery. But these good citizens demonstrated how to combat vandalism. You never allow a travesty to prevail. Doing nothing fertilizes evil.
The team of volunteers, David Thomas, Bill Leavell, Michael Hidalgo, City Council member Susan Coletti, Danny Ergle and Olivia Thomason completed the successful restoration and said they enjoyed doing it.
The mural looks even better. A sweet victory.