Tag Archives: statue

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.

How Fickle Fate Can Be

5 Nov

We’re not building as many statues as we used to. Even without tearing them down, we’re no longer a monument-building people. Yet we haven’t stopped commemorating the past – we just have different intent.

To paraphrase James Burke (whose no longer stalking me), “you only build Roman columns on your buildings if you believe your empire will last as long as the Romans did.” You build statues because the American Republic of a hundred years ago believed in that. They needed to have monuments and columns to emulate the Romans, who after all, were the first republic. They didn’t build Greek columns in Cincinnati because they were the fashion – they were trying to make a pork producing town look important. They called Cincinnati “the city on Seven Hills” because Rome had seven hills. Guess what – Cincy has more than seven.

Jayne : I don’t know why that eats at me so.

Mal : It’s my estimation that every man ever got a statue made of him was one kind of sommbitch or another. Ain’t about you, Jayne. It’s about what they need.

Firefly, Jaynestown

However, they DO occasionally build new statues. Why? Take the Greene statue in Greensboro, NC. They didn’t build it because they thought his Fabian tactics in the Revolutionary War were brilliant (which they were), or that he was a Quaker who abandoned pacifism to save his country, but because the town was named after him. One of the major battles of that war, Guilford Court House, was fought there. They wanted to remind visitors to their city that there’s was an important place, and when that’s the history you’ve got, that’s the history you run with.

Besides, the other big thing that happened in Greensboro was the Woolworth Sit-Ins of 1960. They commemorate that, too, and the old Woolworth’s is now a Civil Rights Museum, but it doesn’t scream class and importance, does it? It screams, “Look what racist #($*@ we used to be!”

Same with this statue of Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus, the namesake of Cincinnati. It was built 10 years ago, not so much because the people wanted to honor their namesake, but because the @(##$ $*@($ 9@)&*($@ representative, Jean Schmidt, wanted to show her constituents that she was “providing the goods,” so she got a three million dollar grant to build this bronze statue. She got her (@#$*)@ $*(@$& booted out of office four years later, thank God.

SIDE NOTE: I ran against Schmidt in the 2010 election, so I got to know her particular politico schtick very well. Personal grudge, I beg your pardon.

Nowadays, though, we tend to make more documentaries than statues, because those that want to learn about Cincinnatus would be more likely to catch it on the History Channel than walking behind the highway downtown. Cincinnatus was twice elected dictator of Rome, whom after the emergency had passed, gave up power willingly and returned to his farm. He is considered the epitome of the soldier-citizen. That’s why they renamed the town of Losantiville after the ideal of what they wanted the new America to be – a new Rome.

Do you know of new statues being raised? Has there always been an ulterior motive to such monuments? Let me know in the comments below!

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