We are indeed fortunate in the 21st century to be able to express our views without being sent to prison for ‘disagreeing with the establishment’.
Looking back through history, my heroes have always been the wise ones who have tended to go against the grain and dared to speak out against what they identified as injustice and greed.
April 30 this year saw the 158th anniversary of the death of Sheffield’s most prolific and famous adopted son, James Montgomery.
His hymns and poems are still sung and read throughout the Christian world.
In his role as editor of the Sheffield Iris (the predecessor to The Star), he often crossed the paths of both local and national politicians in his quest for social justice and better working and living conditions for everyone.
In every sense it is clear that James Montgomery was a born leader and true reformist.
However, his outspoken views and his determination to defeat those who could see their own wealth being attacked by his Christian beliefs resulted in him being imprisoned for his beliefs.
How sad it is then to see James Montgomery’s statue alongside the Cathedral looking so weather-beaten and neglected.
The later part of his life coincided with the early part of Queen Victoria’s reign.
A similar fate has eroded the once magnificent and symbolic statue of ‘The Great Queen Empress’ in Endcliffe Park.
As our own Queen (Elizabeth II) celebrates her 60th year on the throne, how ironic that the Victorian record of 64 years could be eclipsed during our own life time.
Yet the authorities seem to be able to find money can for frivolous projects while failing to remember those who sacrificed great parts of their lives in order for us to be able to enjoy the relative comfort and free speech that we have today.
I find all of this very difficult to digest.
G A Evans, Derbyshire