Lest We Forget

21 Mar

One of my favorite words in the English language is “cenotaph,” a memorial for someone who died but NOT at a gravesite. There’s lots of these, and most of the time, our eyes glaze over these. So who are these memorials for?

I personally love statues–as a history buff, I like to be reminded about what had happened in the past, and find out more. As a Navy brat, I honor those who served. However, not everyone thinks the same way as I do. We make a lot less statues these days. So when you find a memorial, it’s usually much older.

They’re also not cheap. Which means someone thought enough of this person(s) to raise the money for them. Veterans memorials are easy to understand. Those who served want people to know that their neighbors gave their lives in a conflict that they themselves served in. It’s a chance for them to remember their brothers and sisters who didn’t come back. It’s hard to do that; I’m a member of a veterans’ organization, and at the bar every night at 7 pm, there’s a toast that everyone repeats:

To those that went,
To those who are there still,
To those who have not returned,
To those who never will.

7 o’Clock Toast

It is a very moving, very simple ceremony, and I love participating when I can. However, you want to know that your sacrifice was honored, which is why the WWII memorial in DC was so important. Veterans were flown out to see their memorial.

However, then there are the memorials to those who died a long time before. Take a less controversial example – the Alamo Cenotaph. This was built in 1936 to honor the Battle of the Alamo a hundred years before. So they died and any kids of theirs had died long ago. So what were they celebrating? Statehood? History? Sure, but there’s a more insidious remembrance of that. They were saying, “We’re Texas. We won our independence, and we’re still independent!” On the other end of the spectrum, it’s not an accident that California’s flag says “California Republic” (even though they didn’t even bother with a war… or a government lasting longer than a month).

But what the father wants to remember, the son wants to forget. Trust me, if someone put up a statue to honor the Capital Hill occupation in Seattle last year, fifty years from now, some group would want to tear it down because the protestors were “slaveholders” of dogs and cats, and ate the flesh of animals for their food.

As you can see, I’m torn on the issue of memorials. I certainly don’t want one for myself. But what do you think? Are statues a waste of time; better to honor the living than the dead? Or do they serve a purpose in our society, regardless of their intent? Let me know in the comments below!

And after that, why not check out one of my books! Or if the $1.99 is too rich for your blood, download some of my stories. You’ll be glad you did.

One Response to “Lest We Forget”

  1. Silk Cords March 22, 2021 at 6:11 am #

    “Those who do not remember history are doomed to repeat it”.

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