Thursday, June 01, 2006

REGARDING OUR FIELD TRIP TO THE MONUMENTS

I have been thinking about our field trip to the monuments for the past few hours. Yes memorials are suppose to have us stop and think about the past and they are suppose to create some identity of our nation, but the more I think about it the more I think it becomes a crock. What if the reason we have monuments and memorials is because we carry some kind of guilt about the past. Unlike everywhere else in the world, the United States is a county that lives sole in the immediate future. So part of me wants to conclude that the reason we have these memorials is to apologize for the past and then move on. We construct memorials just to remind people of what was once, and to simply make sure this does not occur again.

Also memorials, especially the ones we saw today, bring in a lot of tourist into DC and fosters the DC economy; people stay in hotels, they go out for three meals a day, they probably shop and take transportation etc. So maybe we should not look at the historical significance of the memorials but instead look at them as commodity or a money making machine.

What do other people think?

5 Comments:

Blogger Hilary Golston said...

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8:05 PM  
Blogger Hilary Golston said...

I have to completely disagree with what you’re saying Brad. Many of the monuments that are around today were built long before they could be a tourism draw. In addition, citizens dedicated to commemorating American accomplishments and leaders have fought long and hard to see those things memorialized. The Washington Monument is a great example. According to George Olszewski of the Office of History and Historic Architecture Eastern Service Center, the earliest proposals for construction of a Washington Memorial began in 1783. After the urging of numerous citizens, the Continental Congress proposed erecting an equestrian statue of Washington “at the place where the residence of Congress shall be established” (Olszewski, 1). L’Enfant drew up a plan to build the statue, but the Congress took no action. It was not until 8 days after Washington’s death that future Supreme Court Justice John Marshal proposed a marble monument to honor him. The House reconsidered the matter in1816 and again in 1832. Olszewski summarizes the nation’s yearning to memorialize Washington and the Congress’s sluggish movement to establish one. “Throughout the Nation there was a deep sense of disappointment over the failure of Congress to provide for the erection of an appropriate memorial to the Founding Father in the District of Columbia. Other communities had already erected monuments to the memory of Washington, the most pretentious being the 204-foot Doric column memorial erected at a cost of $150,000 in neighboring Baltimore, Md. The money for this was raised by popular subscription, lottery proceeds, and by a final appropriation from the State of Maryland” (Olszewski,1). States around the nation created their own monument and mourned over the absence of a national monument. I think that the Washington Monument fight along with other “monumental” struggles prove that the American citizenry has a record of battling for the memory of its history. Check out Olszewski’s history of the Washington Monument for more detail at http://www.nps.gov/wamo/history/ .

8:35 PM  
Blogger Matt Jacobs said...

The more I think about it, I see the possibility of your post being valid. When you mention that we are focused solely on the present and the future, rather than the past, you have to look at the steps taken to make sure the average American views things the same way. By building memorials that reassure citizens that actions taken were right (WWII) or at least justified (Korea), while making sure to acknowledge the sacrifices of our people (Vietnam), it almost seems like the overall message is something along the lines of, "we did this, it was done for this reason, we appreciate the sacrifices made". With the afformentioned message being the main point, the focus is just on acknowledging the positive points (even with Vietnam, it was the brave sacrifices that were acknowledged, not an unjustified war) so that we don't have to worry about the past. If we don't have to think about the past, study it, and base our current practices on it (like in eastern cultures), than the focus can remain on the future.

10:30 AM  
Blogger A.Marie said...

This doesn't have to do directly with what you said, Brad, but it pertains to our trip to the monuments and the "living in the present" idea. As we were walking, I couldn't help but be really annoyed by all the little kids running around. To me, the War Memorials should be places of quiet respect. Those kids were having a blast screwing around and just being kids. It really struck me that kids today (ourselves included) really have no concpetion of the importance of these events. It's just a day off school for them. We are so far removed from that time and place that all we can hold onto is stories. Like Kirk said, in a few generations, there will be no one left who is directly rlated to those individuals who fought in the wars. I think kids intuitively know that these things are important, but their displays during our trip really seemed like a lack of respect for the imporance of what those monuments represent.

11:00 AM  
Blogger Brad Tucker said...

To futher my point I am going to talk about the Lincoln Memorial. The Lincoln Memorial, which at first look is suppose to memoralize President Linoln is really suppose to memoralize slavery and the emancipation of slave. Is that what we get out of the monument? When you cross the memorial bridge do you think about slavery? Or do you think abtou Forrest Gump? or Wedding Crashers? You may think about the Million Man march but was that the orginal purpose of the monument? More importantly if you were to go to Lincoln Park there is a small statue there called the Freedom's Memorial. There President Linolcn is lending a hand to black slave who is on all fours beneath him. On the Statue reads EMANCIPATION. This memorial which is not on a toursit map was thought of by ex-slaves when they heard about president Linolns death. These ex-slaves raised the funding for the statue and put it in what was once a black community. So the Linocln memorial that is on the Mall, and which the funding was raised by White Americans is a tourist attraction and therefore looses its true purpose, while the Freedoms Memorial which is small, off the beaten path for tourists and the funding was raised by blacks never gets talked about...

So again are memeorials tourist attractions? 100 Percent. They loose their true purpose. Hilary mentioned the Washington Monument. The monument was intented to make America look more powerful then any other nation. The purpose was to show off America to trousits. We were able to build this grand statue that shoots up in the sky while other nations could not. At the same time we built in the statue stairs up to the stop for tourists to look out at Washington DC. These stairs serve no purpse but for touist. Also the Washington monument stoped its construction during the civil war, hence the change in stone half way up. So the washington monument should symbolize the civil war but does not.

2:01 PM  

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