Proposed Mothers' Memorial by John Geddes, 1922-30 (Library of Congress).

Monumental Disagreements

Memorials in America

This is a country awash in monuments. They adorn traffic circles, street corners and, of course, the National Mall. We’ve memorialized everything from famous soldiers and statesmen, to big ideas or major events – and a lot in between. Yet our ambivalence towards these monuments is as old as our enthusiasm for them. Case in point: The Washington Monument. Ever wonder why there isn’t actually a image of Washington on it?

In this Memorial Day episode of BackStory, we explore the idea of national remembrance. Looking at some of our country’s most iconic monuments, the hosts ask what—and whom—Americans choose to remember, and discover how memorials often tell us more about their creators than what or whom they memorialize.

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