In remembrance of the Civil War
I decided to visit the Civil War Monument at Mt. Hope Cemetery this weekend, since I noticed none of my classmates had posted about it yet. The bronze statue is of a soldier holding a flag and a boy with a bugle horn, and on the plaque it reads, ”1861 1865 On fame’s eternal camping ground their silent tents are spread, and glory guards with solemn round the bivouac of the dead.” Considering the age of the statue, it was interesting to examine how well it was still intact, especially when compared to the deteriorating graves surrounding it.
The portion of the cemetery reserved for these Civil War heroes is set clear in the back, surrounded by other grave site memorials for fallen soldiers, firefighters, and law enforcement officials. Because of this, a lot of the graves were not only similar in style, but decorated with small American flags. Specifically in the Civil War site, however, only a few graves were decorated, and the gravestones were heavily worn with age. The grass surrounding them was worn down and not as green and healthy as surrounding, newer grave sites. Aside from the few decorated graves, it felt like the overall feel of the memorial was one lost with time– while people come to visit it, purely to visit the memorial, it gave off the feel that there are very few personal visitors. (No doubt, there are likely few people who can trace their lineage back to the Civil War easily, let alone know where said people are buried.)
I decided to read the article this week by Hess, that focused on digital memorials. Hess discussed the physical elements of memorials, and how they change landscapes– attract both attention and reason for their being. “Furthermore, the very existence of the text calls attention to itself. ‘(W)hen a memorial (or any other text) appears on the landscape, it is thereby deemed – at least by some, at least for the moment – attention-worthy’ (Blair, 1999: 35–6).”
The key words in that passage are “at least by some, at least for the moment.” At one point in time the Civil War memorial in Mt. Hope cemetery likely held significant importance to loved ones who visited their deceased loved ones there. The Civil War itself will always be taught in history books to children in America, but as discussed in class previously with the Holocaust, it will lose the emotional ties to it as the years pass. When the memorial was built it was deemed attention-worthy. Now it is something visited by citizens at Mt. Hope, but it is likely no longer as important to Rochester citizens as the numerous other memorials also in the graveyard.
Memorials are built to remind us of people, events, etc.. that have brought concepts like change and growth to the world– whether it be for soldiers or for inspirational leaders. They act as a way for us to remember things we otherwise might not always remember. As the world grows, however, and these memorials continue to also grow, in number, I feel we forget the significance behind a memorial.