The Limitation and Function of Monuments regarding Mistakes

In my memory, monuments are usually built in advantage towards one nation or community. For example, the country tends to create memorials of the war hero to praise patriotism or memorials of innocent dead people from wars to condemn their enemy. Growing up in a town with a battle background, those are the two forms I’m most familiar with. However, little dedication is indicated in these memorials to help us reflect on our mistakes. It is either our achievement or someone else’s fault, which is quite similar to the single perspective in the history textbook. Maybe the traits of monuments limit its degree of objectivity and history-telling. They are always so big and high up there that we have to look up to it. And it’s easier to look up to our achievement than mistakes. Maybe the arrangement of other forms of explanation and different monuments together can help move closer to truths and facts.

In “Mitch Landrieu’s Speech on the Removal of Confederate Monuments in New Orleans”, the misleading monument was taken down to make straight what has been crooked and make right what was wrong. But there is much more to worry after the removal. What will replace them? What to do with the old monuments? Do we put it in a history museum or destroy it? Will that erase the mistakes we’ve made? I believe it’s important to curate our space and maybe build new monuments to better lead the next generation. but it’s also important to remember our mistakes that pave the way to where we are today – that the road to equality and justice is never easy, and there’s a long way to go ahead. Maybe there is space in museums to preserve the history and process of a city regarding changing monuments.


2 thoughts on “The Limitation and Function of Monuments regarding Mistakes”

    1. Hey Steve, thank you for sharing this article with me!
      I agree with your opinions: “Memorials have a life beyond their dedication, they need to tell the social history of these political memorials.” And I really like the example of the Durham Confederate soldier memorial which was smashed by activists. Museums have more space to recontextualize these memorials to tell stories of the present. Also, the idea of memorials losing its power is very interesting, I’d love to explore more implication behind it.

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