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August 18, 2022

Letter: Bell signifies California’s history

Interesting how two people can look at the same object and come away with different meanings, like Naka Elelleh sees the Mission Bell road marker as oppressing natives (“These bells don’t jingle,” Dec. 31) while another like me sees the beginning layers of California history. History happened right here with Spanish names such as Pacheco Pass memorializing land grants while the pass itself connected indigenous coastal and land tribes.  

The Gilroy City Council could mirror the original message; the missions were intended to produce wealth for King Philip of Spain. Franciscan Padres were allowed on board those Galleons to legitimize conquests. Gilroy’s position on the legitimate pathway between missions known as El Camino Real, the Highway of the King or Highway 101, grabs historical significance in order to bring visitors and tourists to conduct more business.

California drew immigrants from the south to run cattle and grow rice and beans. Because Mexico won independence from the mother country of Spain, the flag of Mexico now covered California. Then that upstart young republic calling itself The United States picks a fight with Mexico. That fight became an excuse to grow the young country from “Sea to shining sea” as the Stars and Stripes replaced the Mexican flag.

This California Saga from earthquake sturdy land gentled by the indigenous, discovered by ships, traversed by padres, galloped by conquistadores, inspired sailor art and crafts, grew prunes and apricots and discovered silicon chips. From the Spanish Empire to the American Empire, California thrives. I see all of this in that single mission bell dangling from a curve in its metal post support.

Mary Zanger


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