It was 1989. The image of a single student standing in front of an army tank during the Tiananmen Square protests in China captured the attention of many across the world. The student-led protest, made such an impression on several Lima Senior High School students that they initiated discussions with teachers about the lengths to which people across the world had gone to attain freedom from oppression. They were deeply moved watching a young man, not much older than they, face down an army tank in a fight for freedom and democracy in a Communist country.
The LSH discussion turned into a three-year project the students named Project Democracy. They wanted to create a work of art that celebrated and memorialized those who fought so valiantly for freedom all over the world.
The collaborative effort, that went into Project Democracy, included not only Lima Senior students and staff, but also local artists, community members who told their stories of oppression, companies and the Army. The Project, student initiated, directed and executed taught many students a valuable lesson about the preciousness of freedom.
Mr. Hardin, who did not attend Lima City Schools nor has any connection to the school system, has no idea of the history of the sculpture. The sculpture was not, as was reported in the Lima News, built to honor Tiananmen Square protests; but rather, to celebrate all who fight for freedom and democracy. I am proud that our students had the curiosity and appreciation of the value of freedom and the fight to keep people free and that they left this legacy for all of Allen County to reflect upon.
Leslie Rigali, Lima