Personal Narrative of “Personal” Memorials
This photograph is of a memorial for my grandfather. This memorial is different than many of the memorials illustrated by my classmates which are traditional stone with engravings and with statues. However, I believe that though there are no engravings or statues, this memorial is still extremely powerful. According to Hess in, In digital remembrance: vernacular memory and the rhetorical construction of web memorials, “the use of personal narrative is a common tributary strategy of those who mourn the loss of loved ones, whether in digital form or on site,” (p. 823). Thus, this memorial, is very personal in the sense that it was created for an individual not known by many outside of my small town; however, I will explain why this is, still in fact a memorial despite the fact that it is not meant for thousands of visitors to visit. You may recall an earlier illustration of mine that featured an image of my grandfather’s grave site. My grandfather, who passed almost two years ago now, was a much beloved member of the small town of Nunda, NY. Anyone who knew my grandfather, and there are many in the area, will recall that he was a hard-worker who loved to be outside, working the land. For the better part of fifty years, my grandfather founded and assisted in the growth and development of two lovely golf courses in my town, one of which is still run by my family today. He is most remembered as chugging along on the golf course on his favorite tractor, a bright red Farmall. The boulder, bench and the wind sock representation of his favorite tractor all comprise a memorial put together by the members of our golf course as a place where they can go to remember my “Papa” at his “favorite hole.” He is buried just off of the golf course and next to his favorite hole, number twelve, which overlooks a beautiful view of hills and the valley. Thus, as Hess asserts, by taking our personal memories of my grandfather’s life and finding visual and physical representations of things that remind us of him, we create a memorial that is highly personal as a means to commemorate his life.
As mentioned earlier, this memorial is different in the sense that there is no stone and no plaques. In a sense, though the memorial is located on a public golf course, those who are not members of the Nunda community may not recognize that the area is, in fact a memorial. Interestingly, my grandfather’s memorial is one of three that are on my family’s golf course and what is even more interesting is that those two memorials both have plaques to commemorate the individuals while my grandfather’s memorial does not have a plaque and probably never will. What Hess’ whole point about personal memorials is saying is that for those who mourn and remember lost loved ones, “obvious” artifacts that are attributed to memorials are not necessarily needed because the memorials are, in fact personal. Since they are personal, we remember based on the visual rhetoric of the artifacts themselves and not based on a sign or plaque explaining what or who is being remembered.