The most basic definition of a memorial is that it’s something that exists to remind us of a person or an event. Many of us have personal memorials—objects or photos or books or even places that we keep in our lives in order to help us think about people or times past.
These are some of my memorials: I have a tiny silver box with my great-grandmother’s monogram, a prayer book my grandmother inscribed to me, and my other grandmother’s wedding ring. I keep photos of people I love who have passed, and there are certain days each year when I think of them and their importance in my life.
These kinds of personal memorials reveal something that is true on a larger scale about public memorials. We can learn a lot about a person or a group of people by what they want to remember, what they choose to memorialize.
What do you see in your community that is memorialized? How do we honor these memories? What happens when we don’t agree about what should be remembered, and how?
And what happens when we also ask: what is forgotten? What is ignored? What is the cost of not memorializing?