Thursday, December 08, 2005

Rating Washington's Monuments

I really like Slate's photo essays.

I provided one a few days ago that debates the merits of decaying structures.

Today's essay is also on the theme of loss and memorializing time gone by--an examination of the various monuments in and around Washington D.C.

Which are good; which are bad; which over-reach; which are just right?

Read and decide for yourself.

(What do I think? Well, I am glad that the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial were not designed in our time. While I agree that the Vietnam Memorial is excellent in form and function, I have not been enamored with what I've read of the more recent additions--such as WWII and FDR. I should note that I haven't experienced these memorials myself, having last been to WDC in 1989. But I have read about these constructions a bit. They sound overly fussy, if you get my meaning. I worry that the Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial will suffer from the same affliction.)


Jack Thunder said...

i agree with all that. a monument/memorial should not be a museum exhibit.
are people so ignorant or historically unaware that we need to educate everyone on the spot, now? perhaps. if so, what's the point? do ignorant people deserve to have a memorial in their park? do those people being memorialized get the respect they deserve if the population is entirely ignorant of the history involved? is there a role for memorials in a nation that is almost entirely consumerist (and therefore presentist and self-centered)?
perhaps this is too pessimistic. perhaps people are watching historical documentaries on their new Video iPod while walking through the D.C. Mall.

is it possible that there will someday be too many memorials on The Mall?? won't it become kind of a theme park, at some point (if it isn't already)? the patriotic, conservative 14-year-old in me still kind of likes walking around The Mall, and i'd hate to see it overly paved and cluttered. i dread the day they start memorializing Reagan, the Bushes, and "Operation Iraqi Freedom."

David said...

I also worry about the Mall becoming cluttered. I was gut-level opposed to the WW2 beheamoth on those grounds, aside from the particular style of the memorial itself.
And FDR deserved a simpler, more stately memorial that the "all things for all people" mish mash that it seems he got.

The future . . . let's not even think about it. shudder)

Jack Thunder said...

i don't mean to be too cynical. just posing hypotheticals, that's all.
parts of The Mall are amazing.
and i think the Vietnam memorial is the most daring (aesthetic) thing i've ever seen the government approve. i still don't believe it happened.

i didn't know the Korean War memorial was so scattered (both physically and symbolically). one element of it i really liked---a group of soldiers (30 or so?) walking through a field. it was surprisingly understated. and that memorial was built in the last 10-15 years, so maybe there's still hope.

see, i'm not a cynic, honest!