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...
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: 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...
Monday’s Monument: John Bright Statue, Rochdale, England
John Bright, the son of a cotton manufacturer, was born in Rochdale in 1811. He received a Quaker education that helped develop a passionate commitment to ideas of political and religious equality and human rights. Bright came to national fame as one of the leaders of...
Monday’s Monument: International Peace Gardens, Salt Lake City, Utah
The International Peace Gardens, 11 acres located on the bank of the Jordan River, was founded as a citizenship project and as a lesson in peace and understanding between nations. The endeavor is considered evidence that people from many lands can unite in building a...
Monday’s Monument: Monumento a Fray Bartolomé de las Casas, Universal Son of Seville, Seville, Spain
This monument by sculptor Emilio García Ortiz is on the shores of the Guadalquivir, across the river from his birthplace, Triana. It was dedicated in 1984 on the occasion of the fifth centenary of his birth. Bartolomé de Las Casas 1474–1566, a Spanish missionary and...
Monday’s Monument: War and Peace, West Palm Beach, Florida
This statue, by Edwina Sandys, was unveiled in the Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens in West Palm Beach in October, 2019. After the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, Sandys traveled to Berlin to acquire a 32-by-12-foot section, which she has used to create sculptures that express...
Monday’s Monument: Salam Peace Dove, Zamboanga, Philippines
Unveiled in 2010, this is reported to be the first peace monument in the Philippines. It was an initiative of Peace Advocates Zamboanga (PAZ) and Interreligious Solidarity Movement for Peace (IRSMP). At the dedication, one of the organizers said, "we commit to live in...
Monday’s Monument: Pig Monument, Tennille, Georgia
In 1933, in the depths of the depression, farmer Barlow Barton's prize pig escaped. It was his winter pig, meant to feed the family. After two weeks of searching he found his pig, skinny, thirsty and desperate at the bottom of a dry well. After lowering some water and...
Monday’s Monument: Rauhanpatsas, Helsinki, Finland
The text on the base of the rauhan (peace) patsas (statue) reads: This statue of peace was erected by the people of Finland as a symbol of the peaceful coexistence and friendship of Finland and the Soviet Union; April 6, 1968 The sculptor, Essi Renvall, has said that...
Monday’s Monument: Nancy Randolph Davis Statue, Stillwater, Oklahoma
Oklahoma State University dedicated a statue to honor Nancy Randolph Davis, the first African-American student to attend then-Oklahoma A&M College, on January 31, 2019. Davis overcame racial obstacles to pursue her master’s degree in 1949. Davis earned a...
Monday’s Monument: Friedenstauben, Dessau, Germany
In this Soviet-era monument -- Friedenstauben is German for Peace Doves -- eight 10-meter- high flagpoles are joined with two rings. The upper ring is a play on perspective and decorative art, interweaving metallic doves in a continuously braided circular band. The...
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...
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.