The Life of Memorials: Manifestations of Memory at the Intersection of Public and Private


With time comes wear. To maintain the pristine image they presented on the day of their completion, memorials require care and attention. Some memorials, like a bouquet, are purposefully transient, but others are meant to last forever. Those that require maintenance bring to mind questions about how memorials must be kept.

Who is responsible for maintaining memorials once they are completed? What responsibility does the community involved have? Should memorials erected by a failed government be maintained by the new state? What happens to the physical memorial when our understanding of a commemorated event changes? Why are some memorials polished daily, yet others are left to gather dust and wither away —and what does this say about what society deems important? Is this a reflection on the result of a memorial’s acceptance into a society’s natural landscape? How do we maintain what we once deemed important enough to remember forever?

Maplewood Cemetery (Postcard)

Maplewood Cemetery (Postcard)

In January of 2009, the Sons of Confederate Veterans Camp removed the old grave markers in the section of Durham's Maplewood Cemetery designated for Confederate Veterans. Over the years, the headstones had deteriorated, many as a result of vandalism. The markers were replaced, and the site was rededicated in July of 2009.

The new markers are more uniform, stating each veteran's company and "C.S.A." but without additional inscriptions such as "A Faithful Confederate Soldier," which had appeared on some of the older stones. 

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