part 1 of 2
Ulysses S. Grant, the Native Son, looks as bleached white as freshly laundered sheets hanging to dry on an early summer afternoon. Even under today’s overcast spring sky, this gray granite statute of Grant has an almost painful white aura—a startling contrast to his field-rumpled “dust-covered man” persona.
I’m in Georgetown, Ohio: Grant’s boyhood home. This statue, the second of two in Georgetown—making it the only place outside of Washington, DC, where there are two Grant statues—was sculpted by Eric Oderg, erected in June 2012 next to the Brown County Courthouse, and dedicated in August of that year. It took some doing to get Grant here in the center of town.
The statue stands on a pedestal of black marble polished so smooth it shines as sharp as the buttons on a uniform jacket. Everything feels medical clean. An amphitheater of evergreens surround the statue’s the small plaza like the laurels of victory.
Laser engraved on one side is a portrait of Grant as president. Laser engraved on the other is the Grant of Cold Harbor, casually leaning against a tree trunk. The whole statue captures this Grant-the-general, who looks every bit the soldier, perhaps idealized just a bit in this crisp martial rendering.
As I study his face, his expression seems to change depending on the angle I look at him. Sometimes, I think he looks calmly resolute; others, he looks like he’s just missed his bus and there’s rain coming on. He has an overcoat draped over his left arm, so perhaps he’ll be okay after all.