There are diverse human means of remembrance and commemoration. We engage in everyday acts of remembrance when we go the cemetery to visit a deceased loved one, or when we light a candle and say a prayer to honour a dead relative on the day of their death. When tragedy strikes our community or our nation, we may gather in symbolic settings with flowers, candles, placards, our voices, or our silence. We may join with others to honour the dead and rally against the injustice at the heart of the tragedy (e.g., lax gun control laws, lack of attention to climate change, a company’s poor employee safety standards, government policies or actions, etc.). We may also be motivated to create a memorial to commemorate lives lost. This chapter explores the types and purposes of memorials from the early 1900s to present day. Specific attention is paid to memorials honouring human losses from war, genocide, and pandemics.
After completing the chapter materials, you should have an understanding of:
- The concepts of memorials, living memorials, commemoration, remembrance, and monuments.
- The different forms that memorials can take, including examples of each.
- The various purposes that memorials serve.
- The changing nature of memorials since the early 1900s, and why those changes have occurred.
Questions to Think About When Completing Chapter Materials
- Identify two memorials or monuments covered in the course material, one that is more traditional and one that is more contemporary. Based on your experience of viewing the memorials, how would you interpret their meaning and purpose?
- After reviewing the examples of memorials within this chapter, which memorials would you visit in the future and why?
- Identify two key things about traditional memorials that you learned from the course material. Why do you think you had never thought of these things before?
- Thinking about the specific genocides covered in the Chapter on Genocide, what was your response/reaction to learning about the memorials to honour those who were killed?