I have followed with great interest the Shenandoah County School Board’s unilateral crusade regarding the changing of school names and mascots in an effort to “condemn racism and affirm an inclusive school environment for all.” Like many parents and grandparents, I wrote to the School Board members and spoke at the public hearings, held at the Shenandoah County Government complex in Woodstock.

Ordinarily, people would expect to debate – perhaps even demand a referendum on – the advisability of changing the names and mascots (at an estimated cost of $500,000). But that debate was cut short when the School Board made its rushed and unilateral decision to sweep our schools clean of local Civil War history. Fortunately, the issue is being litigated in our court system, and only time will tell whether the School Board’s virtue-signaling decision is implemented. Regardless of the outcome we must abide by it, as we are a nation of laws.

Before taking office, our elected School Board members take an oath of office that reads “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support the Constitution of the United States, and the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Virginia, and that I will faithfully and impartially discharge all the duties incumbent upon me as according to the best of my ability, so help me God." (That last phrase - the one with “God” in it - is optional today. Which may explain a lot.)

Based on my personal observations, the School Board by no means acted “impartially.” Our form of government is a representative democracy, founded on the principle that our elected officials represent their constituents, e.g., those citizens who are currently residents of Shenandoah County who are taxpayers and registered to vote.

Instead, it was made clear and explicit that the majority of the board members had already made up their minds and had chosen to ignore their constituents. Add the influence of “woke” activists whose mission is to re-cast Shenandoah County in Fairfax County’s image and this is what we get. Hearing input and anecdotes from former graduates was nice, but the School Board’s obligation to at least consider the desires of those who voted them into office never even entered the picture. It became a matter of “Stonewall Jackson – bad. Anything else – good!” End of story.

For failing to represent and listen to their constituents, I recommend those who voted in favor of the resolution to change the names of the southern campus schools resign immediately, for openly and without hesitation dishonoring their oath of office. Shenandoah County deserves a School Board that values student achievement and fiscal responsibility over political correctness and the suppression of our valley history. I suspect that one way or another Shenandoah County will get that very thing, and soon.

James R. Poplar III, of Quicksburg, proudly served with the U.S. government for over 40 years. He specialized in national security affairs at both Vanderbilt and the National Defense University.