The Lonely Centrist

A place for reasoned debate about the issues of the day.

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Thinking About Memorials

I love this short article on the problem with modern war memorials - enough to stir me from my lethargy to post for the first time in two months.

Duncan Anderson shares my frustration with modern memorials:
What these modern war memorials have in common with each other is nothing: They portray nothingness. They have no people in them, never mind men carrying guns or swords, statues of Winged Victory or even doves of peace. Just death and names - grief without glory.
Ain't that the truth. The Vietnam Memorial started this trend, and while the starkness of that memorial can be moving, who is inspired by it? Now, current memorials being designed to memorialize 9/11 are following the same path. They don't educate today's viewers, let alone future generations, as to what it was all about, and why it mattered. Nothing more than, "people died here."

Good memorials should honor the deeds of those memorialized, and inspire others to do great or at least things. But today's memorials just sit there, stark and empty.

Anderson, I think, correctly gets why this has come about:
it results from a misunderstanding between the memorial-creating classes and the war-fighting classes.
Anderson sums it up well:
We all die - so to offer voids to the memory of our heroes, and to list their deaths without comment about what they did in life, is to assert meaninglessness, pointlessness. It says, "You sacrificed for others - but that's not worthy of mention, because now you're just as dead as anyone else."
A nation that can't build good memorials, memorials that say, "these fallen acheived something" of "these fallen demonstrated these qualities that make our nation great" is one that has lost its confidence. Unless reversed, these are nations on a downward spiral.

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