Another take on America’s “statues problem”

An excellent editorial by the perceptive writer Sarah Vowell on commemorative statues.

Swerves back to Columbus monuments, and to their character as homages to Italian American heritage.

History– and memory– is complicated.

 

Advertisements

Russian Revolution and the “uses of history”

Yesterday was the 100th anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution. Here’s a really interesting editorial about the Revolution and the uses of history– how to put history to work in service of political goals:

“Manipulating history for political ends is not unusual — see the Trump administration and the Civil War. But in Russia, invoking history has long been a way of proclaiming political or ideological affiliation. The “Great October Socialist Revolution” was the founding myth of the Soviet Union; Nov. 7 (Oct. 25 on the old Russian calendar), the date of the uprising that brought the Bolsheviks to power, was the national holiday, on which tanks, missiles and high-stepping soldiers swept through Red Square.

The history of the revolution — and of the czarist past, and for that matter of the entire world — was written to fit the myth of Soviet Russia as the vanguard of civilization, and woe to those who tampered with the official version. Unless they were the guardians of the official version, to whom it fell now and again to rewrite and update that history — like when Stalin went abruptly from demigod to footnote.”

Holocaust memorial omits reference to Jews

 

From today’s NYTimes, an article about the new Holocaust memorial in Canada (the country’s first, dedicated by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau), with a plaque that failed to mention Jews or anti-Semitism.

David Sweet, a lawmaker from the opposition Conservative Party, asked Canada’s Parliament, “How could the prime minister permit such a glaring omission of reference to anti-Semitism and the fact that the millions of men, women and children who were murdered were overwhelmingly Jewish?” He added: “If we are going to stamp out hatred of Jews, it is important to get history right.”

 

“Revising” history? A new historical marker for Sherman’s March

A new historical marker has gone up in Atlanta, and it is raising questions about historical “revisionism” and how events in the past– especially destructive and emotionally-fraught events, such as Sherman’s March to the Sea– how remembered and memorialized, how they are — literally– set in stone for the future.  ALTJPATLANTA1-articleLarge

“There’s still a strong resentment for what happened and how it happened and for Sherman himself,” Dr. James C. Cobb said. “They want to whitewash everything and make it so much nicer than it was. It wasn’t nice. War isn’t.

“You all the time run into college kids who don’t know which side Sherman was on — and their parents and certainly their grandparents would be aghast to know that. It’s not just a matter of education. It’s a matter of being the blank slate that younger generations present for revision or education that older generations don’t because they’re steeped in the mythology of their ancestors.”

State’s fallen firefighters remembered in Capitol service

More than 200 Minnesota firefighters who died on the job will be honored in a day long memorial service at the state Capitol on Sunday.

The Pioneer Press reports this is the second year of the ceremony, held on the last Sunday of September, which is the state’s official day to honor its fallen firefighters. According to the Minnesota Fire Service Foundation, the names of the 208 Minnesota firefighters who died in the line of duty have are inscribed on columns on the Fallen Firefighter Memorial. The structure was constructed on the south side of the Capitol grounds last year.

Gov. Mark Dayton and firefighters from all over the state will be part of the gathering, as will families of those who are being honored for their sacrifice. KSTP reports that at least 30 members of one St Paul firefighter’s family plan to attend.

Southwest Patch has a schedule for the events of the day:

  • 10:45 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. – Non-denominational prayer service
  • Noon – Honor guard personnel will read the honor roll
  • 1:45 p.m. – Families enter the Capitol grounds and escorted to their seats.
  • 1:58 p.m. – Bells across Minnesota will ring to honor the state’s fallen firefighters.
  • 2 p.m. – Service begins and is scheduled to conclude at 3:30 p.m.