Big memorials like the a proposed Eisenhower memorial in Washington D.C. and the Ground Zero memorial in New York City are big deals, but what happens when more local memorials fall into disrepair due to lack of money and attention? Stars and Stripes looks at the tough times facing smaller memorials:
The corroding monument has challenged the community to maneuver a delicate question: How do we honor those who have served when memorials deteriorate and finances are tight?…
The National Trust for Historic Preservation waged a 2 1/2-year fight to restore the aging Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C., when some people proposed replacing it. Far less disagreement surrounded a decision to update the War Memorial Opera House in San Francisco after a powerful earthquake in 1989.
In Greensboro, N.C., residents have been grappling with what to do with the city’s own decaying tribute to the soldiers of World War I…
In Michigan’s upper peninsula, the Wakefield Memorial Building once stood as a grand structure overlooking a lake in Wakefield, an old mining town. The memorial, built in 1924 to commemorate the sacrifices of World War I soldiers, was expansive, including a banquet hall, meeting room and theater.
By the 1950s, the community couldn’t afford the upkeep of the building and sold it to a private owner. Over the years, there were attempts to renovate the structure. But it was deemed too expensive and by 2010, the building was demolished.
Sociologists have written some interesting pieces about the creation of memorials, like the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial in Washington D.C., but this story suggests another approach to memorials: the middle-life and end-life of memorials. What happens when the generations that built the memorials are long gone? What happens when a community decides it has other financial priorities? What is the expected lifespan of memorials or, in other words, what is the half-life of memorials? It could also raise some interesting questions about how local memorials and memorial events should be. How many individual communities commemorate these important events and are there regional, social class, and racial differences in which communities build and maintain memorials?