Between 1939 and 1945, about 400,000 German soldiers (2% of the total) deserted or attempted to desert, not counting those surrendering in battle. 30,000 of them were caught in the act, 23,000 of those were executed. This was the first of the monuments now in Germany...read more
There are more than 1,500 statues on public land in the city of Philadelphia but, until last year, not one of them represents an African-American. This changed on 26 September, 2017 when A 12-foot bronze statue of Octavius V. Catto — 19th century educator, baseball...read more
Colorado State grad student Kristina Baumli organized the effort to dedicate the fountain area on the north side of the University Memorial Center — frequently used for demonstrations and protests — to Dalton Trumbo, a Hollywood screenwriter who refused to testify at...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 United Nations Peace Plaza in Independence, Missouri was unveiled on October 27, 1997 commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the United Nations and formally dedicated by U.N. General Secretary Kofi Annan on April 25, 2003. It is described by its creators as "the...read more
On August 12, 2017 the State of Maryland removed the statue of former Chief Justice of the United States Roger Taney, which had stood of the statehouse grounds in Annapolis since 1872. Taney wrote the majority opinion in the 1857 Dred Scott decision, which upheld...read more
The Middle East Peace Sculpture in Seattle's Peace Garden is located in the southeast portion of the Seattle Center near the base of the Space Needle. A graceful twist of Italian marble about 30 x 8 inches standing atop a natural column of black basalt. It depicts two...read more
Dorothy O'Connell is an activist, author, playwright and poet laureate of the poor. The monument that bears her name honors her anti-poverty work and focuses attention on the issue of ending poverty. The image is a slice of bread with a house removed from it. The...read more
African Burial Ground National Monument is a monument in the Civic Center section of Lower Manhattan, New York City. The site was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1993 and a National Monument in 2006 by President George W. Bush. Congress appropriated funds...read more
Sculpted by Ed Dwight and dedicated on October 20, 2001, the Gateway to Freedom International Memorial to the Underground Railroad pays tribute to Detroit's contribution and the thousands of railroad conductors who made freedom possible.For many the city was the final...read more
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
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
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.