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

The Result

Historically, public memorials have been designed to provide viewers with a specific message and cultivate “a particular mode of remembering.” Memorials can range from literal interpretations to symbolic representations of an event. They can be places of remembrance for past achievement or tragedy. They can be buildings or roads that continue to serve a functional purpose. However, after they are built, the creators hand over the right of interpretation to the viewers. This means that over time a memorial’s meaning can change drastically. Collective memory is fluid and sometimes disregards or forgets a memorials original intent.

Arc de Triomphe (Postcard)

Arc de Triomphe (Postcard)

Does anyone remember that Napoleon built the Arc to celebrate his victory at Austerlitz? The Arc has lent its frame of glory to many more victories throughout history, most recently acting as a symbol of victory in Paris for the Nazis and then subsequently for the Allies in World War II. It is a landmark, a tourist attraction, and a symbol on postcards. Has the Arc's power grown or diminished as a result?

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