Comfort women were women and girls forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese Army since 1910, before and during World War II. Estimates vary as to how many women were involved, with numbers ranging from as low as 20,000 to as high as 410,000. Many of the women were...read more
Commissioned as part of the 1964 New York World's Fair, the Unisphere is a spherical stainless steel representation of the Earth, located in Flushing Meadows–Corona Park in the borough of Queens, New York City. It measures 140 feet high and 120 feet in diameter....read more
John Lewis moved to Atlanta as a founding leader of SNCC— the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee—with an impressive resume as an activist. As a Fisk University student he’d been arrested for leading sit-ins and protests. In 1961 he helped spearhead the Freedom...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.
The sister city relationship between Arlington, Texas and Bad Königshofen in Bavaria began when a German official on an exchange program stopped in Arlington and related how hard things were in his city. Not only were they suffering from post-war shortages, but their...read more
Hyde Park was the home of Franklin Roosevelt. Outside the Presidential Library, in the Freedom Plaza, is BreakFree, constructed of pieces of the Berlin Wall (which fell in November, 1989.) It was installed in 1994. The sculpture is by Edwina Sandys, granddaughter of...read more
The Christmas Truce Memorial was dedicated by The Duke of Cambridge Prince Harry on December 12, 2014, the 100th anniversary of an informal truce between British and German troops in the trenches of France during World War I, in which they sang carols, exchanged gifts...read more
This Tribute to Human Rights, by Mariano González Beltrán, was dedicated on December 15, 2004 and is located in the Plaza de Santo Domingo. Composed of numerous figures cast in bronze and arranged in a circle, it represents "a society that lives in harmony, in harmony...read more
On December 10, 1948 the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by the United Nations, which held its fifth General Assembly at the Palais de Chaillot, in Paris. In 1985, at the entrance of the forecourt, an engraved slab was dedicated and the esplanade was...read more
Monday’s Monument: Monument Against Fascism, War, and Violence-and for Peace and Human Rights, Hamburg/Harberg, Germany
Commissioned by the city, artists Jochen Gerz and Esther Shalev-Gerz described their design as a Gegen-Denkmal––a countermonument. They rejected the city of Hamburg's offer to place it in a park and instead constructed it in a pedestrian shopping mall in the...read more
It is perhaps a stretch to call the Teddy Roosevelt memorial a peace monument, as the only reference to peace on the four slabs that are engraved with his quotations falls not on the side of peace. "If I must chose between righteousness and peace, I chose righteous,"...read more
At a peaceCENTER's meeting last week we were talking about the postal service and Andy quoted this poem, engraved on the pediments of the old District of Columbia Post office, now the Smithsonian's National Postal Museum, at N. Capitol & Massachusetts Ave, NE, on...read more
The Carn Heddwch (Peace Cairn) was constructed on Mynydd Llanfihangel Rhos y Corn, Carmarthenshire, in the Autumn of 2007. It has the word peace carved in four languages: Arabic, English, Hebrew and Welsh on different sides of the monument. The children of Brechfa...read more
This monument recalls the brutal murder of seven young black activists by South African security forces in 1986. The young men were on their way to what they believed to be a job interview in a minivan driven by an undercover security officer, when they stopped at a...read more
On the campus of the University for Peace (the only university chartered by the United Nations) this monument, sculpted by Cuban artist Thelvia Marín in 1987, includes nine 12-foot columns hosting a sculpture on each side. The columns are lined up in a spiral,...read more
The White Rose (German: die Weiße Rose) was a non-violent, intellectual resistance group in Nazi Germany, consisting of students from the University of Munich and their philosophy professor. The group became known for an anonymous leaflet and graffiti campaign,...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.