A sculpture commissioned by the United Nations to commemorate the end of slave trade was unveiled at UN Headquarters in New York on 25 March, 2015 to coincide with the International Day of remembrance for the victims of slavery. Visitors can pass through the Ark of...read more
A massive, arched gateway, 50 feet high, stands alone on the edge a beach in West Africa, a monument to the hundreds of thousands of Africans who were forced into slave boats on this beach, never to return. Etched across the top of the arch are two long lines of...read more
The shining arch rising 63 feet above the ground the Labor Legacy Landmark, "Transcending," is designed to celebrate the history and contributions of labor. Dedicated in 2003 and funded through donations from union members, it is the work of local sculptors David Barr...read more
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.”
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.
This is a small sliver of a park across from United Nations Plaza, but it packs a big punch into 4/10 of an acre. It is distinguished by four monuments. Peace Form One at the north end is a 50-foot high stainless steel shaft dedicated in 1980 as an homage to Bunche....read more
Israeli artist Henri Azaz's abstract bronze work adorns the front of the Chicago Loop Synagogue, on S. Clark Street, above the door. Stylized hands in prayer, palms down, are featured in front of a blessing from the Bible’s Book of Numbers in both Hebrew and English:...read more
Perry's Victory and International Peace Memorial commemorates the Battle of Lake Erie that took place near Ohio's South Bass Island, in which Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry led a fleet to victory in one of the most significant naval battles to occur in the War of 1812....read more
Wendell Phillips was a Boston lawyer who, in 1835, after hearing an impassioned speech by abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison, abandoned his practice and devoted the rest of his life to fighting slavery and other civil rights causes, including the rights of native...read more
The first of its kind on any of the nation's state house grounds, this monument was dedicated March 29, 2001 as part of a compromise that also saw the removal of the Confederate flag from the statehouse dome, moved to a flagpole on the grounds. It traces...read more
In 1999, at the age of 15, Alexandra Nechita was named a United Nations ambassador of peace and goodwill through art. She had been brought to the US from Romania at the age of two, had sold her first painting at a library book sale at nine and was known throughout the...read more
Cease Firing - Peace is Proclaimed, or just the Peace Monument, sometimes referred to as Gate City Guard, was designed by sculptor Allen George Newman and dedicated in Piedmont Park on October 10, 1911. It depicts an angel staying the hand of a Confederate soldier as...read more
Built in 1988 for the XXIV Olympiad in Seoul, the World Peace Gate towers nearly 80 feet and features a colorful mural depicting the four spirits (a phoenix, a turtle, a tiger and a dragon) by Korean artist Baik Kum Nam. Beneath the gate is an eternal flame with an...read more
"Birds of Freedom," installed by Mexican artist Victor Manuel Contreras in 1982, is at the entrance to the Pyramid Building (on the north side of Loop 410, across the highway from North Star Mall.) In the words of the artist, "The eagle, symbol of the Sun, of...read more
Located in the Jeppesen Terminal of the Denver International Airport, Leo Tanguma's "Children of the World Dream of Peace" is a powerful mural expressing the artist's desire to abolish violence in society. One section of the piece speaks to the tragedy and devastation...read more
The Integration monument was unveiled during the Florida State University Heritage Day Celebration on January 30, 2004. It consists of three figures standing approximately nine feet tall on a circular brick pedestal. It is based on the concept of “books, bats, and...read more
Legend has it that Kamehameha I, during his military campaign to unify the Hawai'ian islands, was chasing two non-combatant fishermen when his foot became caught in the reef. He was struck on the head by one of the panicked, fleeing fishermen with an oar, which broke...read more
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?
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. 5
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.