⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Historical Memorialization

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Historical Memorialization



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Chapter 7: Visiting the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin

It honored those lost during the defense of the city of Baltimore from British attack in September of during the War of Other early memorials began to appear on the American landscape also honoring battles and soldiers, including one in Charlestown, Massachusetts. Completed in , it was dedicated to the American casualties of the Battle of Bunker Hill during the Revolutionary War.

A turning point in the history of memorials was the Civil War. Prior to the s, the military typically interred soldiers lost in battle in cemetery plots either at the fort where the soldier was stationed or in a simple grave where he died. However, during the Civil War, and by an act of Congress in , the War Department began recording burials and ordered military commanders to designate sites at the battlefields for burying those lost in battle. From that time onward, family members, veterans, the press, and the general public have expressed an interest in memorializing the dead, battlefields, and the causes of conflict.

For instance, President Abraham Lincoln viewed these monuments and battlefields as not only memorials for the dead but also reminders for the living and tributes for veterans of war. Gettysburg National Cemetery was probably the most impressive and widely regarded example of the new memorials. The standard was established when the State of Pennsylvania chartered the Gettysburg Battlefield Memorial Association in and, by , over memorials and monuments to the deadly and decisive battle of July were established on and around the site.

In the years after the Civil War, many communities and organizations across the nation began building memorials in town squares, at the site of battles, and at the birthplaces of heroes. Likewise, communities, states, and foundations established trusts and boards to begin formalizing the process of erecting memorials. Another crucial moment in the history of public memorials in America was the building of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, more commonly known as the Vietnam Wall, in The project, like the war itself, was controversial and has become one of the most visited and one of the most popular and recognizable memorials in the country. In recent times, three of the most noteworthy memorials have been in honor of those lost not in conventional wars but to acts of terror.

Thus, the memorials reflect the changing focus of American national security and identify: The Oklahoma City bombing, the tragic attacks of September 11, , in New York City, and the campus shootings at Virginia Tech. The act of erecting public tributes has clearly not been limited to the political realm and warfare. It appears to be a distinctly American notion that memorials have grown to cover the full range of triumph and tragedy in the American experience, including natural disasters, scientific discovery, heroic deeds, historic firsts, and the loss of life.

Little research has been done on the purpose and meaning of public memorials in the United States. Not surprisingly, one also discovers that there are numerous definitions used by scholars and the memorial foundations themselves for what constitutes a public memorial. The Galveston Hurricane Memorial is narrowly focused on preserving the memory of that deadly disaster in , while the Wounded Knee Memorial Museum endeavors to clearly tell the story of Native Americans, both through the battle and in a larger sense in American history.

It says something about the role of memorials in American life that most definitions of memorials recognize their role in honoring and remembering great individuals, events, and ideas. Therefore, memorials exist at the intersection of memory and history and bond us to our past. But such definitions of memorials might fail to capture the full measure of that being memorialized. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it far above our power to add or detract. Studies of memorials differ greatly in their aims and methods, and there appears to be no single, best, or even agreed upon approach to the study of memorials. What remains is the need to pull all these studies together and synthesize the findings in an attempt to understand the significance of memorials in American life and to develop a model to explain the purpose and meaning of public memorials.

To accomplish these goals, a comprehensive review of the literature on memorials was undertaken in order to identify the primary elements — social, political, physical, and otherwise — of public memorials. In order to be included in our list of constructs, items had to be the subject of multiple studies in scholarly journals, scholarly books, or academic conference papers and deemed by the authors of the studies to be important to our understanding of memorials.

The constructs identified in this list did not need to be included in every study, as some of the studies listed one construct while others listed several of the constructs; and some appeared with more frequency in the studies than others. Constructs are concepts that assume meaning based on foundational characteristics and interpretations. For example, memorials function to construct memory insofar as the nature of memorials is to help us remember. They might also construct our notions and practice of grieving or, through historical interpretation, the memorials might construct the meaning of warfare or the sacrifice of the fallen. The 10 constructs identified from the literature base are listed in table 1.

Table 1. Constructs of Memorials. We the Living: Visitors to Memorials. Those Left Behind: Memory and Meaning. Education: Learning from the Dead. Artifacts: A Physical Connection. Personalization: Names at Memorials. Architecture and Design: Physical Elements of Memorials. Connectivity: A Sense of Place. In order to test whether the list of constructs identified is useful to our understanding of the purpose and meaning of memorials, hypotheses were developed for each construct.

These are listed in table 2. Visitors to memorials are important to our understanding of memorials. Grieving is important to our understanding of memorials. Education is important to our understanding of memorials. Artifacts left at memorials are important to our understanding of memorials. Names placed at the memorial are important to our understanding of memorials. Architectural design is important to our understanding of memorials. The cost of memorials is important to our understanding of memorials. Connectivity is important to our understanding of memorials. Technology is important to our understanding of memorials. In order to test the hypotheses, in early , in-depth interviews were conducted with experts and administrators at 16 public memorials around the country.

Those interviewed included memorial directors, CEOs, superintendents, and deputy superintendents, as well as curators, historians, chiefs of interpretation, senior advisors to the museum, and chiefs of staff at the site. These interviews included long and detailed telephone calls, email and mailed correspondence, follow-up contacts, and questionnaires.

These four were selected because of their prominence and preeminence among public memorials today. The remaining dozen memorials studied were selected by us in order to reflect the broad array of American memorials, thus constituting a purposive sample. Purposive samples sometimes referred to as judgment samples are selected subjectively in an attempt to obtain a sample that appears to be representative of the population. The memorials selected in this study were chosen from the population of national memorials, which includes 29 national memorials administered by the National Park Service and 93 national monuments administered or owned by the federal government. For example, they cover the geographic expanse of the country from Washington, D.

The list also includes most well known as well as less well known memorials such as the memorials to the Galveston Hurricane, Fallen Firefighters, and Wounded Knee. There are memorials for one person such as the Martin Luther King, Jr. The memorials under study span the period of time from the 19 th century to the new millennium , and include a wide array of types from natural disasters to veterans to war to space exploration to cultural diversity to campus violence. However, social scientists have used purposive samples with success, especially in the case of exploratory studies attempting to propose an initial model or theory. The memorials under study appear in table 3 and are listed in chronological order. Alamo Memorial killed fighting for Texas, Gettysburg Memorial 51, killed, Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument killed, Wounded Knee Memorial killed, Galveston Hurricane Memorial 8, killed, USS Arizona Memorial 1, killed, Korean War Veterans Memorial 36, killed, Martin Luther King, Jr.

National Historic Site 1 assassinated, Vietnam Veterans Memorial 58, killed, National Fallen Firefighters Memorial 3, killed, Space Shuttle Challenger Memorial 7 killed, Oklahoma City National Memorial killed, National September 11 Memorial 2, killed, Virginia Tech Memorial 33 killed, One potentially important construct is the visitors to a memorial in terms of who visits, why they visit, when they visit, and how many visit the site.

Visitors help pay for memorials, leave comments and suggestions, participate in educational and interpretive programs, and, of course, take away meaning of the individual s and event memorialized. Roughly 1. The Memorial is currently attempting to attract more minority and female visitors in order to more fully portray the significance of the site. Another construct is the connection of memory and meaning.

In a way, memorials function much as the national holiday, Memorial Day, which became a day of national remembrance in Collective remembrance helps to further define or redefine both history and the event. Because of the modern news media and advances in electronic communication, the tragedy and grief of the shootings on the campus of Virginia Tech in April of were brought almost instantaneously to much of the world.

The array of vigils held on campus included both public and private examples of grieving, which appears to be another construct of memorials. Memorials, as noted by Winter and as suggested throughout this paper, not only commemorate but fulfill a part of the mourning and bereavement processes. As such, memorials are constructed for the living in honor of loved ones lost. This includes guest speakers, guided tours, exhibits, and even Junior Ranger programs for children that offer badges, patches, certifications, and an array of activities.

Most memorials also have museum-like elements such as interpretive signs, handouts and brochures, docents, and more. As such, education would appear to be a construct for understanding memorials and, in turn, helps to construct meaning for visitors. Another construct identified in the literature is artifacts. Visitors to memorials often bring and leave behind artifacts such as flowers, photographs, stuffed toys, combat boots, military awards and unit patches, flags, and personal notes.

Many people find this to be therapeutic or helpful in remembering or connecting with the event or individual lost. One apparently important construct of memorials is to list names, something which used to be common on local or town memorials but is now seen at some national memorials. It also interacts with other constructs identified in that naming assists with grieving, gives memory and meaning to the site, and transcends the limitations of place and time. A variety of architectural styles and designs, from marble and bronze statues to headstones and tombs to walls and even chairs, have been incorporated in memorials. The use of water, mirrors, and other physical materials and surfaces have also helped memorials to become places of reflection.

Both thus incorporate space into the architectural design in a way that inextricably ties the memorial to the event it memorializes. Life and memory in American culture have no price, but there is a cost for memorializing the dead. Individuals, foundations, corporations, and governments support memorials. The costs, which some argue are important in understanding the nature of memorials, vary, especially over time. Another construct for memorials is a sense of place and connectivity to the hallowed ground at the memorial.

Most memorials share the land where the event occurred or are built at a site of importance to the individual or event. So too do architects incorporate the landscape into the design in order to achieve a sense of place. The final construct identified in the literature is technology. Here, virtual visitors can learn about the people, animals, history, or nature of the memorial through games and activities. Virtual memorials allow visitors to experience the site anytime and from any location. Visitors to or viewers of the memorials online are often invited to leave comments on their experiences. Table 4. Findings from Interviews and Questionnaire. Experts at and directors of 16 memorials were asked during comprehensive interviews and by written questionnaires whether or not the 10 constructs were important to an understanding of the purpose and meaning of their particular memorial.

They were also asked to rank the constructs in order of importance. The scores at the bottom of the columns reflect the rankings of the memorial directors for each construct, with the lowest totals reflecting the most important constructs. Based on these results, it is possible to accept or reject the 10 hypotheses one for each construct hypothesized to be important to memorials. In addition to the total scores listed in table 4, the hypotheses were tested using measures of central tendency, as listed in table 5.

The authors determined that hypotheses would be rejected if the total score is in excess of 80 the score if 5 — half the total number of constructs — is multiplied by 16, which is the total number of memorials and the arithmetic mean is higher than 5 which is half of 10, which is the total number of constructs. In his letter to James Conkling, Lincoln himself states that he emphatically. She demonstrates how the unprecedented carnage, both military and civilian, caused by the Civil War forever changed American assumptions of death and dying, and how the nation. We do not usually question the historical facts we learned about slavery or ask how we know so much about the history of these people the enslaved Africans in America who left behind so little written record.

From the harshness of slavery to the Civil Rights Act of to the Black Lives Matter movement, race has often played a central role in American culture. We had an entire war over the belief that owning another human being and forcing them to do labor on the basis of skin color was just fine morally. Even though we are still be grappling with issues of race today, our culture is significantly different than that of the Civil War and Post-Civil War era in the United States. One way this culture can be preserved is through monuments, meant to capture a time or a feeling so that it can live on long past when the memory occurred. In acknowledging the nation's ancestral benefactors, we enshrine examples that can be emulated by generations to come.

Thus, memorialization accomplishes the task of cultural transmission qtd. Get Access. Read More.

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