What is the importance of a monument? I have always found that monuments are a way to visit the past. To try and enshrine an amazing time in history. The lecture on Monday night that explored the idea of monuments did just that. It looked at how we structure monuments now compared to when and for what purpose they were built.
The idea that I always find fascinating is will we ever see a new monument be built today, or will it be classified as a monument in classical terms? The reason for this thought is the same reason why a boxer will never be as good as Muhmmed Ali. Even though a boxer might be as good, the allure of Ali will live on forever as the champion with present fighters never able to live up to him. With that same piece of mind, it seems unlikely that a modern monument will be built. It seems that people have an idea about the past that makes it seem like it is better than the present. Whether that is right or wrong I do not know, nor wish to argue. More the fact that for the same token when an artist passes away his artwork usually takes a rise in prices since his memory is usually fond and that they are unable to make any more artwork. But that isn’t to say that living people haven’t had monuments put up. The late Joe Paterno had statue at Penn State until an investigation into his hiding of information about child sexual assault came out. It was then taken down. But it does prove that people are willingly to erect a statue or monument about a living human person as opposed to the dead.
Along with building monuments, should old ones be torn down? The most obvious case of a monument or historical piece being taken down in the United States is in the state of South Carolina where they choose to not use the confederate flag as their state flag anymore. Whether in support for the southern pride that is said to bring to people or the upset about how a state still supports in some ways the ideas about what the state used to stand for. By taking down the flag in some ways the state is trying to hide what it used to stand for. That in the past it was in support of slavery and along with that obviously racist rhetoric. Instead of shying away from where the state came from could they accept their past and fly the flag, but with an explanation? The explanation could say how once the state took a stance on ownership of people’s bodies and now where it stands. How it has moved on from the past, how it is no longer connected to those ideas, and how by having it up there every day it is a reminded how South Carolina has a responsibility to keep moving forward. In that way monuments of the past that have a negative connotation can still be used positively in the future.