Paula Levine Reaction

Cultural memory is a powerful thing, and monuments are an intriguing aspect of cultural memory. In many cases, a monument is nothing more than a simple stone edifice with a plaque. Other times, they are carefully constructed to evoke an emotion about the past.

Levine says “when commemoratives work, they instigate participation in ways that make memory more of a verb than a noun.” A good example of this would be the Vietnam Memorial. This monument is little more than a list of names carved into black stone standing at a recess in the earth. It could easily be overlooked if one didn’t know where to find it. Yet the people that visit are overcome with emotion.

Monuments often commemorate a sadness or loss and represent an interesting contradiction. People erect monuments to remember the pain, but people need to forget the pain to move on from the loss. It is fascinating how people need to both remember and forget at the same time.

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