Grammatical error set in stone

Nederland Veterans Honor Roll

The Nederland Veterans Honor Roll, a granite memorial to veterans at Tex Ritter Park in Nederland, stands as a reminder of those brave soldiers of the city who gave their lives for this country in various foreign wars. The stone has been placed to help people remember the sacrifices of the fallen heroes … or is it to help people forget?

According to Nederland City Manager Chris Duque, a Nederland citizen expressed concern over the wording engraved into the memorial. The memorial unfortunately reads, “Lest we not forget the memory of all veterans who died defending our rights and freedom.” The sentiment behind the memorial is commendable. It is the language that is in question.

The Merriam-Webster online dictionary states that lest means “for fear that – often used after an expression denoting fear or apprehension.” In that case, the statement in the memorial means “for fear that we not forget the memory of all veterans.” Rather than “lest we not forget,” the correct and traditional wording would be “lest we forget.”

Duque said since the error came to his attention, he has made efforts to check the phrase for accuracy. He said the wording originated from a veterans memorial in Sebring, Fla. A Nederland man sent a photograph of the Sebring monument with a letter to the city requesting something similar to honor Nederland’s veterans. Duque said there’s no consensus on the wording, but the Nederland Historical Society is checking into the phrasing and the possibility of correcting the commemorative monument, if necessary.