Peace & Justice Monuments
Monday’s Monument: From Within Shalom, Portland, Oregon

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...

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Monday’s Monument: John Bright Statue, Rochdale, England

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...

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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.”

Alfred Nobel

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: War and Peace, West Palm Beach, Florida

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...

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Monday’s Monument: Salam Peace Dove, Zamboanga, Philippines

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...

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Monday’s Monument: Pig Monument, Tennille, Georgia

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...

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Monday’s Monument: Rauhanpatsas, Helsinki, Finland

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...

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Monday’s Monument: Friedenstauben, Dessau, Germany

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...

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Monday’s Monument: Las Equis (The X), Ciudad Juarez, Mexico

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...

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Monday’s Monument: Rotary Peace Monument, Moshi, Tanzania

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...

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Monday’s Monument: Peace Bell, Tirana, Albania

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...

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Monday’s Monument: 228 Massacre Monument, Taipei, Taiwan

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...

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Monday’s Monument: Virtues of Life, Lagos, Nigeria

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."...

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MONUMENT (n.)

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?

Want to learn more about monuments? Check out my bookshelf.

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.

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