WNPR

Why Do We Commemorate And Who Does It Serve?

Sep 6, 2017

The violence in Charlottesville last month over whether or not to remove a statue of Confederate soldier Robert E. Lee rekindled a heated debate that's more about national identity and race than about statues. But, it's easier to fight about statues than begin a long-overdue national discussion over how we remember our collective and complex national past - especially in the context of slavery.

Maya Lin's 1981 Vietnam Veterans Memorial was hotly contested for its abstract design and because it broke the unspoken rules about how we remember war. Despite the initial controversy, it is today the most visited and revered memorial in the nation.

Lastly, Coltsville National Historical Park will soon be Harford's tribute to Samuel Colt, a prosperous and pioneering industrialist - who also manufactured and peddled guns to both the North and the South during the Civil War. 

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Colin McEnroe and Chion Wolf contributed to this show.