Peace & Justice Monuments
Monday’s Monument: Peace Wall and Moon Gate, Bluffton, Ohio

Monday’s Monument: Peace Wall and Moon Gate, Bluffton, Ohio

Although the headline highlights the Peace Wall/Moon Gate, this entry actually features a plethora of peace installations in the Honda Outdoor Sculpture Garden surrounding the Lion and Lamb Peace Arts Center at Bluffton University (formerly Central Mennonite College)...

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Since May 2015, every Monday morning I have been posting a little essay about a peace or social justice monument. For more than a decade, ever since the peaceCENTER was contracted by a national peace & human rights group to develop a workshop exploring strategies for creating memorials about acts of violence and injustice that did not glorify the bloodshed, we have pondered the relationship between the landscape and civic memory.

“I would rather take care of the stomachs of the living
than the glory of the departed in the form of monuments.”

Alfred Nobel

As we showcase these monuments we hope you will join us in this exploration. For now, we’re concentrating on publicly accessible outdoor works. Some are grassroots and homespun; others, more complicated in their funding and execution. They all have a story to tell and we can learn from all of them.

Monday’s Monument: Friedensengel, Munich, Germany

Monday’s Monument: Friedensengel, Munich, Germany

The Angel of Peace is in the Munich suburb of Bogenhausen, on the banks of the Isar. It can be seen throughout the city. The foundation stone was laid on 10 May 1896; the unveiling was on 16 July 1899. It is a reminder of the twenty five peaceful years after the...

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Monday’s Monument: Peace, Columbus, Ohio

Monday’s Monument: Peace, Columbus, Ohio

On the north side of the Capitol Square stands a winged female figure clad in flowing garments holding aloft the universal symbol of peace, an olive branch. This is the statue Peace. Though erected soon after the completion of the First World War, this monument honors...

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Monday’s Monument: Ara Pacis, Rome, Italy

Monday’s Monument: Ara Pacis, Rome, Italy

The Ara Pacis was built between the years 13 and 9 B.C.E. to celebrate peace in the Mediterranean after the victorious battles of Emperor Augustus in Hispania (Spain & Portugal) and Gaul (present day France, Luxembourg, Belgium, most of Switzerland, and parts of...

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Monday’s Monument: Free Stamp, Cleveland, Ohio

Monday’s Monument: Free Stamp, Cleveland, Ohio

The stamp, designed by Claes Oldenburg and his wife Coosje van Bruggen, was commissioned by Standard Oil of Ohio in 1982 to sit in front of the new Standard Oil of Ohio building The stamp was also supposed to sit in front of the new Standard Oil of Ohio building...

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Monday’s Monument: Obelisk to Peace, New York, New York

Monday’s Monument: Obelisk to Peace, New York, New York

"Obelisk to Peace", created by Irving Marantz in 1972, is at the main entrance of 3 Park Avenue (between 33rd & 34th St., in Murray Hill.) It is 23 feet high, made from bronze and is set on a polished granite base. (The photo on the right is of a smaller version...

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Monday’s Monument: Peace Obelisk, Wheatley, England

Monday’s Monument: Peace Obelisk, Wheatley, England

Designed and carved by Simon Buchanan, the obelisk is the brainchild of the School of Economic Science, who own Waterperry Gardens. They commissioned the work so visitors have a greater understanding of the philosophical principles of the school by expressing a common...

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Monday’s Monument: Peace Garden, Bury St. Edmunds, England

Monday’s Monument: Peace Garden, Bury St. Edmunds, England

By the 1190’s, there were about 2,500 Jews living in England, enjoying relative freedom compared to those on the continent. Although they comprised less that 0.25% of the English population, they provided 8% of the total income of the royal treasury. This financial...

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Monday’s Monument: Spheres of Reflection, San Antonio, TX

Monday’s Monument: Spheres of Reflection, San Antonio, TX

There's a new statue in San Antonio's Martin Luther King, Jr. Park. Let me make it clear. MLK Park, which is adjacent to the Eastside Boys and Girls Club on MLK Blvd., is not the same place as MLK Plaza, on N. New Braunfels, just outside the gates of Ft. Sam Houston....

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Monday’s Monument: Ether Monument, Boston, Massachusetts

Monday’s Monument: Ether Monument, Boston, Massachusetts

Dedicated in 1868, this forty-foot-tall monument commemorates the use of ether as an anesthetic, a pivotal moment in medical history. The first public demonstration of ether anesthesia was conducted at nearby Massachusetts General Hospital in 1846 by Boston dentist...

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Monday’s Monument: Hesperus Peace Park, Durango, Colorado

Monday’s Monument: Hesperus Peace Park, Durango, Colorado

The Hesperus Peace Park is in the style of a kiva on the Fort Lewis College Campus in southwestern Colorado. Fort Lewis College is known for its American Indian Native programs and culture, thus the kiva- style park both reflects the culture of the area and the arid...

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Monday’s Monument: I Am Cyrus, Sydney, Australia

Monday’s Monument: I Am Cyrus, Sydney, Australia

This is a replica of a bas relief discovered in Pasargade, the capital city of Persia, founded by Cyrus. It depicts Cyrus the Great (580–529 BC) in a Babylonian costume, Jewish helmet, with two wings and a short Persian beard. Cyrus was the first Achaemenian Emperor...

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MONUMENT (n.)

late 13c., “a sepulchre,” from Old French monument “grave, tomb, monument,” and directly from Latin monumentum “a monument, memorial structure, statue; votive offering; tomb; memorial record,” literally “something that reminds,” from monere “to admonish, warn, advice,” from PIE *moneyo-, suffixed (causative) form of root *men- (1) “to think.” Sense of “structure or edifice to commemorate a notable person, action, or event” first attested c. 1600.

Ten Questions to Ask at a Historic Site

In his book Lies Across America, Professor James Loewen posed these ten questions to ask at a historic site.

1. When did this location become a historic site? (When was the marker or monument put up? Or the house interpreted?) How did that time differ from ours? From the time of the event or person interpreted?

2. Who sponsored it? representing which participant groups’s point of view? What was their position in the social structure when the event occurred? When the site went “up”?

3. What were the sponsor’s motives? What were their ideological needs and social purposes? What were their values?

4. What is the intended audience for the site? What values were they trying to leave for us, today? What does the site ask us to go and do or think about?

5. Did the sponsors have government support? At what level? Who was ruling the government at the time? What ideological arguments were used to get the government acquiescence?

6. Who is left out? What points of view go largely unheard? How would the story differ if a different group told it? Another political party? Race? Sex? Class? Religious group?

7. Are there problematic (insulting, degrading) words or symbols that would not be used today, or by other groups?

8. How is the site used today? Do traditional rituals continue to connect today’s public to it? Or is it ignored? Why?

9. Is the presentation accurate? What actually happened? What historical sources tell of the event, people, or period commemorated at this site?

10. How does the site fit in with others that treat the same era? Or subject? What other people lived ad events happened then but are not commemorated? Why?

Want to learn more about monuments? Check out my bookshelf.

Ready to Kill

by Carl Sandburg (Chicago Poems, 1916)

TEN minutes now I have been looking at this.
I have gone by here before and wondered about it.
This is a bronze memorial of a famous general
Riding horseback with a flag and a sword and a revolver on him.
I want to smash the whole thing into a pile of junk to be hauled away to the scrap yard.
I put it straight to you,
After the farmer, the miner, the shop man, the factory hand, the fireman and the teamster,
Have all been remembered with bronze memorials,
Shaping them on the job of getting all of us
Something to eat and something to wear,
When they stack a few silhouettes
Against the sky
Here in the park,
And show the real huskies that are doing the work of the world, and feeding people instead of butchering them,
Then maybe I will stand here
And look easy at this general of the army holding a flag in the air,
And riding like hell on horseback
Ready to kill anybody that gets in his way,
Ready to run the red blood and slush the bowels of men all over the sweet new grass of the prairie.

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