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The weekly “Monday’s Monument” feature on this website is being fed from a database we are compiling that currently contains 200+ monuments. If you’d like a copy of the database, drop us a line.

Peace & Justice Monuments

Since May, 2015, every Monday morning the peaceCENTER has 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 (indoor art, museums and historic sites may come later . . . ) 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

Monday’s Monument: 28 Blocks Mural, Washington, DC

“28 Blocks” by New York artist Garin Baker is on the Metropolitan Branch Trail — a pedestrian and cyclist commuter trail in Northeast Washington. It is visible from the New York Ave. Bridge. The mural is a tribute to the men — many of whom were the first and second...

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Happy Birthday, Peacemakers!

February 18, 1934 Audre Lorde "When we speak we are afraid our words will not be heard or welcomed. But when we are silent, we are still afraid. So it is better to speak." February 21, 1936 Barbara Jordan "What a better world it would be if we all, the whole world,...

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Monday’s Monument: Friedensdenkmal, Edenkoben, Germany

This was built in 1899 as a Siegesdenkmal — victory monument — over the French in the Franco-Prussian War (1870/71), on the edge of the Pfaltzwald. Because of its location, one can see across the Rhine all the way to Strasbourg (there are stairs in the back leading to...

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Monday’s Monument: BreakFree, Hyde Park, New York

Hyde Park was the home of Franklin Roosevelt. Outside the Presidential Library, in the Freedom Plaza, is BreakFree, constructed of pieces of the Berlin Wall (which fell in November, 1989.) It was installed in 1994. The sculpture is by Edwina Sandys, granddaughter of...

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Lies Across America

If you
haven’t read
this book,
you should!

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?

 

Travel across the United States in a 1965 Airstream Trailer as filmmaker Tom Trinley visits historic sites and monuments unveiling the many sides of history not told on the landscape or in history books. On-camera appearances by Howard Zinn, James Loewen, Lonnie Bunch and Adam “Fortunate Eagle” Nordwall. Inspired by “Lies My Teacher Told Me” and “A Peoples’ History of the United States.”

At the Un-National Monument along the Canadian Border
By William E. Stafford

This is the field where the battle did not happen,
where the unknown soldier did not die.
This is the field where grass joined hands,
where no monument stands,
and the only heroic thing is the sky.

Birds fly here without any sound,
unfolding their wings across the open.
No people killed—or were killed—on this ground
hallowed by neglect and an air so tame
that people celebrate it by forgetting its name.

 

Not marble, nor the gilded monuments
Of princes, shall outlive this powerful rhyme;
But you shall shine more bright in these contents
Than unswept stone besmear’d with sluttish time.
When wasteful war shall statues overturn,
And broils root out the work of masonry,
Nor Mars his sword nor war’s quick fire shall burn
The living record of your memory.
–William Shakespeare, from Sonnet 55

Listen to this song!

And we find it really hard to say we’re sorry
So the shadow of injustice still remains
We build monuments to those who died in battle
But we seldom speak of those who died in chains

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