Monday’s Monument: Monument To National Unity, Georgetown, Guyana
The Monument was dedicated on June 13th, 1995, in memory of the late Guyanese Historian and activist Dr. Walter Anthony Rodney, for "his indelible contribution to the struggle for National Unity." Rodney was assassinated in a car bombing in 1980 at the age of 38. It...
Monday’s Monument: Monument to Life and Disarmament, Bogota, Columbia
Bogotanos took the 14,000 firearms collected 2007, melted down on July 9 — International Gun Destruction Day — to create a monument to disarmament in Parque Tercer Milenio, created on the site of El Cartucho, one of the city's most violent neighborhoods. The monument...
Monday’s Monument: Flamme de la Paix, Timbuktu, Mali
The Flame of Peace or “Flamme de la Paix” is a peace monument located on the northwest part of Timbuktu facing the desert. This white construction with rifles, kalashnikovs and rocket launchers embedded in the surrounding concrete is the actual place where more than...
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.
Monday’s Monument: Friendship Statue, Macao, China
Macao, a Portuguese colony for 450 years, was turned over to the Chinese in 1999, whence it became a special administrative region. Before the handoff, the Portuguese spiffed up the long-neglected old town, recognizing that the Chinese would be more willing to...
Monday’s Monument: Ara Pacis Mundi, Medea, Italy
The Ara Pacis in Medea was built soon after the end of the Second World War as a symbol of the sacrifice of the nation and to represent the hope of a world of peace, liberty and justice. Designed by the architect Mario Bacciocchi , it was dedicated in 1951. The...
Monday’s Monument: Bunker Mules, Blåvand Beach, Denmark
There are 7,000 concrete bunkers and fortifications on the beaches along the west coast of the Jutland Peninsula, an ugly reminder of the German occupation during World War II. In the 1990s, Denmark commissioned 24 international artists to commemorate the 50th...
Monday’s Monument: Baltic Way Memorial, Vilnius, Lithuania
In 2014, twenty-one years after the Baltic Way united Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania with a human chain to protest against the Soviet occupation, a new monument commemorating the event was unveiled in Vilnius. It is a brick wall, close to Vilnius Pedagogical...
Monday’s Monument: Toleration, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
The 9' 8" statue of an unnamed Quaker man was sculpted in 1883 by Herman Kirn and is a tribute to religious and political tolerance. It was gifted to Philadelphia by John Welsh, a noted citizen of the city and one of Fairmount Park’s former commissioners. It stands...
Monday’s Monument: Sülh Göyərçini (Peace Dove), Sumgayit, Azerbaijan
Peace Dove is in the Nasimi Culture and Leisure Park (named after the Azerbaijani poet and philosopher Imaddaddin Nasimi) and has become the symbol of the city. The monument was designed by Vagif Nazirov and architect A. Guliyev. Made of solid concrete, it was...
Monday’s Monument, The Yellow Line, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
Commissioned by the Hobart City Council in 2013, The Yellow Line is the only permanent public artwork to acknowledge gay activism in Australia. This artwork symbolizes the line around the Tasmanian Gay Law Reform Group stall at Salamanca Market in the vicinity of...
Monday’s Monument: Heiwa-zo, Nagaoka, Japan
At 10.30pm on August 1, 1945, 125 B-29 bombers flew over Nagaoka, Japan in an air raid. About 163,000 incendiary bombs totaling 925 tons were dropped on the city in one hour and 40 minutes, burning down 80 percent of the city. It took four days to cremate all the...
Monday’s Monument: Vietnamese Refugees Memorial, Footscray, Melbourne, Australia
The monument commemorates the Australians who helped resettle Vietnamese boat people during the 1970s, and is dedicated to the thousands of refugees who died trying to escape Vietnam. This memorial is the first in Australia to commemorate the plight of the Vietnamese...
Monday’s Monument: Émile Zola Monument, Paris, France
Émile Zola was a French novelist, playwright and journalist, known for his impassioned defense of Captain Alfred Dreyfus, a Jewish artillery officer in the French army who was unjustly accused of treason in a sensational trial dripping with antisemitism. Zola's open...
Monday’s Monument: Bishop Michael H. Kenny Memorial Peace Park, Juneau, Alaska
The pocket park in the Alaska capital was dedicated on 21 September, 2012: international peace day. Juneau Veterans for Peace led the effort to name the park after Kenny, who served the Catholic Diocese of Juneau from 1979 to 1995. The organizers originally proposed...
Monday’s Monument: St. John’s College Peace Stone, Sydney, Australia
The Peace Stone was a gift from the Japanese organization Shuyodan Hoseikai, The Society for Promoting Devoted Service and Sincerity. There are only four such stones outside of Japan; in addition to this one, in Sao Paolo, Berlin and San Francisco. Each Peace Stone...
Monday’s Monument: Deur “Oorlog en Vrede,” Rotterdam, The Netherlands
This artwork, the Door of War and Peace, is the conclusion of a many-year restoration of the Sint-Laurenskerk, built between 1449 and 1525. After the bombing of May 14, 1940, only part of the tower and parts of the outer walls of the church remained standing. This old...
Monday’s Monument: Brotherhood Statues, Chicago, Illinois
In 1952 Vienna-born artist Egon Weiner created two identical bronze groups for either side of the entrance to a building that, at the time, housed the headquarters of the Union of Amalgamated Meatcutters and Butcher Workmen. When the Union moved to Washington, D.C. in...
Monday’s Monument: Parque de la Abolición, Ponce, Puerto Rico
In 1874, a year after the abolition of slavery by Spanish royal decree, a group of Puerto Rican citizens built a small park in memory of the historic event. In 1880 the city government took up the project and developed this park. It originally included a roller...
Monday’s Monument: Freedom Monument, Los Angeles, California
A sculpture billed as "a crowd-supported and funded public monument to freedom, cultural diversity and inclusiveness" was unveiled in July, 2017 at a festival celebrating Los Angeles' diversity. The Freedom Sculpture in Century City was "inspired by the humanitarian...
Monday’s Monument: Peace Wall, Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan
The Peace Wall was dedicated on August 29 2019 by then-President Nursultan Nazarbayev. The day is significant: it is not only the annual International Day against Nuclear Tests but also the 27th anniversary of the closing of the Semipalatinsk Nuclear Test Site. The...
Monday’s Monument: Both/And – Tolerance/Innovation, Madison, Wisconsin
Artist Team David Dahlquist and Matt Niebuhr created Both/And – Tolerance/Innovation to represent what they describe as “a space between knowing and believing.” They describe it as a "signifier of that space between knowing and believing where civility, moderation,...
Monday’s Monument: Peace, La Louvière, Belgium
The Monument of Peace is the work of sculptor Michel Stiévenart. It was erected in 1969 on the Place Communale on the occasion of the celebration of the centenary of La Louvière, the first Belgian city of peace.
Monday’s Monument: Monument de la Paix, Saint Herblain, France
The text on the plaque reads: Ville de Saint Herblain Monument de la Paix inauguré le 11 Novembe 2000 imaginons un monde ou les couples, en se déchirant , ne déchireraient pas les coeurs de leurs enfants une terre ou toutes les cultures, ou toutes les couleurs se...
Monday’s Monument: Peace Statue, Nagasaki, Japan
Nagasaki native son Seibo Kitamura created the 32-foot bronze, whose right arm points upward toward the threat of nuclear destruction while the left arm is extended in a gesture of peace. His eyes are closed in prayer for the dead, but his muscular figure symbolizes...
Monday’s Monument: Tomb of the Unknown Slave, New Orleans, Louisiana
Founded in 1841, St. Augustine is the oldest African-American Roman Catholic parish in the United States. The church was founded by free people of color, who purchased additional pews for the enslaved. This memorial, which does not contain any actual remains, was...
Monday’s Monument: Monument to the Unknown Civilian, Paris, France
On September 26, 2019 in Paris, Humanity & Inclusion unveiled what it claims is the world’s first Monument to the Unnamed Civilian. Their goal is to "denounce the devastating pattern of modern conflict, which harms innocent civilians over and over again. In Syria,...
Monday’s Monument: From Within Shalom, Portland, Oregon
Steve Gillman's From Within Shalom (1984) is a granite sculpture installed outside St. James Lutheran Church, which owns the work. Although it sits on the sidewalk, it is considered part of Peace Plaza, which you can see off to the right of the photo. It was donated...
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.
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.