Weekly musings on the arts and current events.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

It Is For Us the Living...

The Three Soldiers statue was in the news this week. Its patina, which had turned bluish-green after years of weather and handling by visitors, has been restored. There are people who love this statue, but I am not one of them.

The Wall is the most visited memorial in Washington, DC., and perhaps the most revered. Its power lies in its understatement. I'm sure I don't have to describe it for you, but I can relate the experience of visiting.

I walked very slowly past its black marble face, discomfited by the sight of myself on the surface of the stone that bears the names of the fallen. I welcomed that discomfort. I wanted to be humbled for standing there, on a crisp Autumn day, while these fifty thousands could not. Presently, I began also to look at the reflections of the other visitors, not as a voyeur, but as a man joined to them by history, by pain, by love, and by that moment.

The Three Soldiers, as I recall, was sculpted at the behest of Ross Perot, some older Congressmen, and the notorious Secretary of the Interior, James Watt. These men could not conceive of a memorial that didn't make a positive statement about what had been America's most castigated war. They never imagined that a work of pure mourning, without the taint of politics, would have greater power to heal than a disingenuous depiction of valor and egalitarianism.

The Three Soldiers by Frederick Hart. The photo shows its position relative to The Wall. I recall its location as a kind of staging area for visitors before they lowered their voices and joined in the procession.

1 comment:

DUTA said...

Memorials are indeed for us the living - a silent call to honour the memory of our departed ones.

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial(which I've seen only in pictures) is a black wall with the names of the dead dominating it. This concept of a black wall with names is found in many places, mostly in indoor memorials ( in our synagogues, for instance), and is considered very proper and respectable.

However, in the Vietnam case, people didn't just die, they fell in War, and there should have been some reminder of that in the form of a weapon, a soldier or both.

I don't like the statue of The Three Soldiers myself (as it is seen in the pictures). I too think it is "disingenuous", but it's better than nothing , especially considering the fact that its location is in a vast park and it might attract children and young people visiting the park, to visit The Wall too. It's important for educational & historical purposes.

Anyway, let's hope that the Vietnam veterans that come to this Memorial, find here solace among the other visitors that share their feelings, and perhaps a bit of healing to their wounded souls.