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...
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: Las Equis (The X), Ciudad Juarez, Mexico
"The "X," or "La Equis," is a monument created by internationally known Mexican sculptor Sebastian (Enrique Carbajal González, who also sculpted the Torch of Friendship in Downtown San Antonio.) According to Sebastian, the sculpture is a tribute to former Mexican...
Monday’s Monument: Column of the Freedom of the Slaves, Ocaña, Columbia
On May 21, 1851, the Republic of New Granada (present-day Colombia and Panama) declared that slavery was to be abolished. The proclamation was met with a wave of support from most levels of society; however, the decision did not come into effect until January 1, 1852....
Monday’s Monument: Medicine Lodge Treaty Statue, Medicine Lodge, Kansas
In October 1867 the US government signed a treaty with five Indian tribes-- Kiowa, Comanche, Arapaho and Kiowa-Apache and Southern Cheyenne -- to put an end to years of bloody fighting on the Great Plains. This statue, erected in 1927, commemorates that treaty. That's...
Monday’s Monument: Hector Pieterson Memorial and Museum, Soweto, Johannesburg, South Africa
On 16 June 1976, at the age of 12, Hector Pieterson was shot by police during the student uprising in Soweto. Although not the first to be shot, he was the first of 23 students to die. The picture taken by news photographer Sam Nzima of his body being carried by...
Monday’s Monument: Rotary Peace Monument, Moshi, Tanzania
This monument, 6 feet in diameter and 8 feet high, conveys a message of peace and service – it is inscribed with the globe, a dove and Rotary information written in six languages. The globe conveys awareness and the dove symbolizes service towards world peace. It was...
Monday’s Monument: Albert Einstein Memorial, Washington, D.C.
Situated in an elm and holly grove on the grounds of the National Academy of Sciences, the Einstein memorial was unveiled on April 22, 1979, in honor of the centennial of his birth. It is by sculptor Robert Berks. He is holding papers containing facsimile handwriting...
Monday’s Monument: Monument to Reconciliation, Antiguo Cuscatlán, El Salvador
This park is a monument to the Chapultepec Peace Accords, which brought peace to El Salvador in 1992 after more than a decade of civil war. It was opened in 2017. A landscaped path -- el camino a la reconciliación, the road to reconciliation -- leads from the parking...
Monday’s Monument: Peace Bell, Tirana, Albania
This peace bell is cast from from 20,000 bullet cartridges, gathered by Catholic children, lead by a Catholic priest, in Shkodra in 1997, following a period of civil unrest in the country in which 2,000 were killed. It is located near the Enver Hoxha Pyramid. The wall...
Monday’s Monument: Clock of Hope for Peaceful Reunification, Seoul, South Korea
This monument is on the grounds of the War Memorial of Korea, located in Yongsan-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea. It opened in 1994 on the former site of the army headquarters for the purpose of preventing war through lessons from the Korean War and for the hoped...
Monday’s Monument: Peace and Justice Plaza, Chapel Hill, North Carolina
In September, 2009 Chapel Hill renamed its historic Post Office Plaza (which also includes the county courthouse) as Peace and Justice Plaza, and marked the occasion with a granite plaque, embedded in the pavement, containing the names of nine local champions of peace...
Monday’s Monument: Monument of National Reconciliation, Athens, Greece
The sculpture was unveiled in 1989. It consists of three bronze figures embracing each other with one hand, other hand reaching for the sky. The sculptor was Vassilis Doropoulos . It is in Klafthmonos (Weeping, or Lamentation) Square. Τhe Greek Civil War was fought...
Monday’s Monument: JFK’s Launch of the Peace Corps Speech Plaque & Medallion, Ann Arbor, Michigan
After a day of campaigning for the presidency, Senator John F. Kennedy arrived at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor on October 14, 1960, at 2:00 a.m., to get some sleep. Members of the press had retired for the night, believing that nothing interesting would...
Monday’s Monument: 228 Massacre Monument, Taipei, Taiwan
The 228 Peace Memorial Park is a historic site and municipal park containing memorials to victims of the February 28 Incident of 1947, including the Taipei 228 Memorial that stands at the center of the park and the Taipei 228 Memorial Museum, housed at the site of a...
Monday’s Monument: Suffering Humanity Sculpture, Belleville, Illinois
The plaque reads: Suffering Humanity. Constructed of welded steel, this 200 pound, six foot tall sculpture was begun in 1968. Haunted by the realization that this work should speak to no particular war, no particular race, but to all wars and all humanity - - the...
Monday’s Monument: Monumento Cristo de la Paz, San Marcos, El Salvador
This “Christ of Peace” was designed by the sculptor Rubén Martínez in honor of the Peace Accords of Chapultepec, signed in 1992, which ended a decade-long civil war. It was unveiled in 1994 during the Central American Sports Games that took place in the city of San...
Monday’s Monument: Virtues of Life, Lagos, Nigeria
In 2018 TerraKulture, a cultural arts center in Lagos, partnered with the Nigerian government to simultaneously erect 19 new monuments "to boost the aesthetic landscape of the State...and further place the State on global tourism scene and the hub of Africa tourism."...
Monday’s Monument: Three Dikgosi Monument, Gabarone, Botswana
Dedicated in 2005, the monument features 18-foot tall bronze statues of three dikgosi, or chiefs, who played important roles in Botswana's independence: Khama III ( Bamangwato people ), Sebele I (Kwena people), and Bathoen I (Ngwaketse people.) The three chiefs...
Monday’s Monument: Peace Wall and Moon Gate, Bluffton, Ohio
Although the headline highlights the Peace Wall/Moon Gate, this entry actually features a plethora of peace installations in the Honda Outdoor Sculpture Garden surrounding the Lion and Lamb Peace Arts Center at Bluffton University (formerly Central Mennonite College)...
Monday’s Monument: Washington-Morris-Salomon Monument, Chicago, Illinois
This statue was unveiled in Heald Square on December 15, 1941, the 150th anniversary of the adoption of the Bill of Rights. It shows George Washington in his Revolutionary War uniform shaking hands with English-born Robert Morris on his right, and Polish-Jewish emigre...
Monday’s Monument: Dove of Peace, Edmundton, Alberta, Canada
The Dove of Peace was designed and built to stand over the dais where Pope John Paul II stood to deliver his greetings and blessings during his visit in September of 1984. The frame of the structure originally included a white canvas tarpaulin covering to provide...
Monday’s Monument: Memorial to War & Reconciliation, Southwark, London, England
The bronze artwork was dedicated on 27 November, 2018, in the year that marks the centenary of the Armistice and the end of the First World War. But the sculpture has been commissioned to commemorate all the lives that have been affected by war and conflict around the...
Monday’s Monument: Bangkapayapaan, General Santos City, The Philippines
In the Filipino language, bankapa means boat and payapann means peace. The monument features eight main symbols placed atop pillar installations that depicts the city’s character, vision and aspirations. The cross symbolizes Christianity and the city’s predominantly...
Monday’s Monument: De Dokwerker, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
The February Strike (Dutch: Februaristaking) was a general strike in the German-occupied Netherlands in 1941, during World War II, organized by the then-outlawed Communist Party of the Netherlands in defense of persecuted Dutch Jews and against the anti-Jewish...
Monday’s Monument: Thanksgiving Square, Belfast, Northern Ireland
The idea of Thanksgiving Square was proposed by a Belfast woman, Myrtle Smyth, who was inspired by a visit to Thanks-Giving Square in Dallas. Lord Diljit Rana, chairman of the Thanksgiving Square charity that raised the $300,000 needed for the statue, said the aim of...
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.