Memorials and memory are strongly linked. The purpose of memorials is to make us remember. They evoke emotions and memories from every person on some level. Memorials are full of symbolism and meaning. They represent history and those that are no longer here. However what these representations mean and tell us all depends on our social and cultural influences.
For example as someone how grew up in England, the symbol of a poppy is ultimately linked to Remembrance Day, (11/11). The poppy represents the poppy fields on which the battles were fought, and bring forward thought of war and those that were lost. However, for many outside of England the poppy is just a flower and doesn’t have the same meaning.
Whilst memorials often show the aftermath of conflict, some are built in memory of exceptional individuals, such as Martin Luther King. These people are just as significant and influential to our history and the world we live in today, but is it right memorials for an individual are the same size and some times bigger than that of one for thousands?
Sometimes ironically memorials built to represent those lost in a conflict, can themselves cause some degree of conflict. The Vietnam Memorial in Washington DC caused outrage amongst some Americans as it was designed by someone of Eastern decent. The Americans didn’t feel they were properly represented through the memorial. After much negotiation an American designed a second memorial. This memorial, a bronze statue named The Three Soldiers, was positioned by the wall. The statue and the Wall appear to interact with each other, with the
soldiers looking on in solemn tribute at the names of their fallen comrades. The memorial depicts three soldiers, purposefully identifiable as White American, African American, and Hispanic American. This was done to represent ‘everyone’ that partook in the war. However, this caused further outrage as Women, who were a major part of the Vietnam War mainly as nurses, felt they weren’t represented properly in either memorial. This culminated in a third memorial being built to fairly represent the women.