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.