What's In A Name? For Rhode Islanders, Plenty

BOSTON (WBZ-AM) -- What’s in a name?

In the case of T.F. Green Airport in Rhode Island, plenty.

The Warwick facility is named after Theodore Francis Green, governor of Rhode Island in the 1930s and one of its US Senators for 24 years. But Green retired in 1961 and passed away in 1966, and his legacy is widely forgotten, to the point where the current governor and legislative leaders are pushing to change the name to Rhode Island International Airport.

Why? According to the airport’s CEO, “our airline partners have been telling us they believe the name change will increase travel at the airport,” which has been expanding its international flight menu in recent years.

Color me skeptical. The airline industry makes a lot of claims that turn out to be bogus, like the time shortly before September 11, 2001 when they told Massport executives not to tighten security because it might hurt business.

And more to the point, Rhode Island will lose something important if they drop the T.F. Green name.

Green was someone Rhode Island schoolkids – and the state’s modern-day politicians – ought to be honoring, not forgetting about. He was a strong supporter of the New Deal that helped create the American middle class, a staunch opponent of Nazi expansion in the 1930s and an advocate for internationalism and free trade.

He fought for civil rights and against the red-baiting McCarthyism of the 1950s.

Rhode Island and the country owe a debt of gratitude to Green and what he stood for. The notion of discarding his commemoration in favor of superficial, generic branding is foolish and damaging.

While they’re at it, why not rename Del’s Frozen Lemonade?

Call it the International Yellow Ice Treat, and see how that goes over.

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Keller @ Large

Keller @ Large

Jon Keller is a WBZ TV & Radio political analyst. Read more


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