The Arts of War and The Arts of Peace are bronze statue groups on Lincoln Memorial Circle in West Potomac Park in Washington, D.C.. Commissioned in 1929 to complement the plaza constructed on the east side of the Lincoln Memorial as part of the Arlington Memorial...read more
Apotheosis of Democracy is on the United States Capitol House of Representatives portico's east front in Washington, D.C. The pediment's center focal point is the figure of allegorical Peace, which is dressed in armor and is depicted protecting Genius. Leaning against...read more
Installed on the south side exterior of Philadelphia’s Independence Visitor’s Center in 2003, Alison Sky’s Indelible is a site-specific, narrative work intended to create awareness about American history that has gone undisclosed. The artwork is a stucco relief of a...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.
In September 2017 the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines unveiled a statue of the late human rights lawyer Jose "Pepe" Diokno, appointed by President Corazon Aquino as the founding chairman of the country's watchdog agency against rights abuses and...read more
Thomas Paine, philosopher of the American and French Revolutions, author of “Common Sense,” has been a controversial figure when it comes to monuments. In 1942 a Paine statue was proposed for Fairmount Park in Philadelphia but the idea was shot down because his book...read more
A Quaker at a time when Quakers were banned from Massachusetts, Dyer was eventually hanged for her insistence on religious liberty in the English colony. The statue by Sylvia Shaw Judson went up in 1959 at a descendant's bequest. It's diagonally across from the Boston...read more
A memorial to the English Quaker, abolitionist and activist Joseph Sturge (1793–1859) was unveiled before a crowd of 12,000 people on 4 June 1862 at Five Ways, Birmingham, England, near his former home. Sturge is posed as if he were teaching, with his right hand...read more
Henry Richard is chiefly known as an advocate of peace and international arbitration, having been secretary of the Peace Society for forty years (1848–84). He is less widely known for his other interests, especially his anti-slavery work. The statue was dedicated in...read more
Elihu Burritt was known as the "Learned Blacksmith." He lectured throughout New England about the joy of learning, then turned his attention to humanitarian causes for which he is famous: the abolition of slavery, the dignity of the American working man, and the cause...read more
The monument was dedicated on July 17, 1994, in remembrance of the killing of millions of Jews by the Nazis during World War II. It is set upon a base of six black granite Stars of David which represent the six million Jews who perished during the Holocaust. A central...read more
The Pit (Belarusian: Яма) is a monument devoted to the victims of the Holocaust. It is on the site where, on March 2, 1942, the Nazi forces shot about 5,000 prisoners of the nearby Minsk Ghetto. The small polished black granite obelisk was created in 1947 and in 2000...read more
Memorial to the Six Million in Johannesburg’s Westpark Cemetery pays tribute to the Jewish men, women and children who lost their lives during the Second World War. The monument depicts six bronze fists, each five feet high, bursting out of the ground as a protest...read more
The Bells Monument (or, in Bulgarian, “Камбаните”) is in a park at the base of the Vitosha mountain. An inscription at the monument’s base reads, “Children of the future accept the eternal, fiery call of immortality - Unity, Creativity, Beauty.” When the UN declared...read more
L’arbre de l’espérance sculpture stands at the main entrance to the 26th centennial park in Marseille and was unveiled in 2000 as part of the 2,600 anniversary of the foundation of the city. 350,000 people of all faiths and none, native to Marseille or immigrants...read more
The sculpture sits on Trg Oslobođenje – Libertion Square – in the center of Sarajevo. It consists of a naked male figure reaching toward the sky, pulling the meridians of the earth together. Around him, doves help by lifting further meridians into place. The...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.