The Importance of Monuments
Sometimes I find myself wondering how often people truly go to cemeteries or past battle fields to visit family members. I know I, for one, have always been intrigued by the idea of going to a cemetery, sitting above a grave that peaks my interest, and writing what that person's life story could have been. Of course, that hasn't happened yet because a) I don't have time in my life, and b) I've never really known what it's like to have reason to go to a cemetery. But it got me thinking. We pay a lot of money for a giant rock to mark the place where someone we loved was buried. We make plaques and little explanatory blurbs about battles, who fought who, how many people died, and the like, but why? Is it out of respect? Or is it out of a desire to not have the story forgotten? Perhaps it's both. But why keep the memory preserved in stone? I'm no psychology student, but I am a people watcher, and I think it's mainly to cope with the pain of loss. If we can respect the dead, it somehow makes their passing easier to deal with. Also, having a rock to talk to when you miss them can make the loss less heavy. Don't get me wrong, I love monuments. I love the way they preserve memories like an external drive preserves documents, but it's one of those things that humans do that I find very intriguing. We have such an innate desire to know and be known that we set up rocks with engravings so that we won't forget the stories and the loved ones. Monuments are the more permanent version of tying a string around your finger, because some stories are far too important to be allowed to drift into oblivion.