To the horror of all of his victims, 20 years later Mayor Davis put up a 15-ft tall statue of the man on a pedestal in front of the courthouse, declared January 15th Relondo Day, and renamed Main Street after him. Furthermore, the school board voted to rededicate the high school as Relondo Memorial High.
The women all sign a petition and demand that the community not honor Relondo. How could their fellow citizens force them to see the name of their oppressor, their vicious rapist honored? How could they be expected to have their grandchildren wear Relondo’s name on their high school uniforms? How could their neighbors not understand that every time they drive down Relondo St. or pass by the courthouse they are reminded of the violence and torture they endured. The all-male city council and school board, many of whom are employed in businesses owned by Mr. Relondo, dismiss the women’s requests.
All the women sadly die knowing that their serial rapist never was brought to justice and instead has been memorialized with honor. Their story, their truth, however, lives on in their descendants. Time passes and the great-great-grandchildren of the women have reached the point of no longer being able to endure the whitewashing of history, and they will no longer stand to see their families’ abuser honored. Their children will NOT wear Relondo’s insignia on their lapels. They will NO LONGER be subjected to the humiliation of having Relondo’s smug face fixed in bronze looking down on them when they go to the court seeking justice.
So the descendants and their supporters get a petition together and head to the courthouse to protest in an effort to set the record straight and right some longstanding wrongs. To their dismay, they are met at the mayor’s office by hundreds of counter-protesters waving flags of Relondo’s estate in their face. The descendants are also met with comments plastered on posters or hurled at them through angry voices:
Stop trying to change history!
None of you were raped!
It’s time to move on!
It’s part of your heritage; deal with it!
If you don’t like Relondo, then move!
What seemed even stranger than the hateful, insensitive comments was seeing the faces of the counter-protesters. Why, Pastor Jackson and dozens of members of Beauregard Baptist Church were among them! How in the world could they reconcile their faith with their behavior toward people who were seeking justice and righteousness and want to defend a man who represented such a painful—dare they say it—sinful!—past. Did they not read the same Bible? To the descendants and their supporters it was a clear case of “Woe to them who call evil good and good evil.” Besides, they were not asking that the name of Relondo be stricken entirely from the historical record. Much to the contrary they very much wanted the whole truth of Relondo’s historical record preserved.
Then the protesters remember, Did not even Jesus say you can know the truth and be set free by it? Surely, when the counter-protesters are presented with the full truth, they will realize the validity of their concerns and accept their petition. Unfortunately, the protesters failed to realize that the counter-protesters are not interested in learning, much less accepting, the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth; they only want to preserve their hand-me-down whitewashed version of it. They left the protest that day shaking their heads, feeling dumbfounded and pondering many questions:
How can they not see that what we are asking for is sensible and decent?
How can we reason with unreasonable people?
How can we try to inform people who are unwilling to listen?
How can we show people truth they have overlooked, if they refuse to open their eyes?
How can people who say they love Jesus be so angry and hurtful?
How can people who call themselves Christians be so sentimental about a violent and painful past?