Porto, PT | Rotterdam, NL


Veterans' Memorial Competition

The memorial is not the five walls. These five walls, in number, the same as the branches of our Armed Forces, that individually, invoke images of the ridges and contours of the Blue Mountains behind them, or of billowing sails and sweeping lines of ships or of fortress walls, thick and sturdy.

Neither is the memorial the placement of the five walls together. Of, perhaps, a home whose walls are being built by those who returned or destroyed by the violence in which they reluctantly bore witness.

Nor is the memorial the words emblazon upon the walls. Words, even by one of the most learned of men. Words that have descend down through the ages until today.

Finally, the group of figures do not compose the memorial. These ancient symbols handed down to us. The Winged Victory crowning two seated figures with wreathes of laurels. The figures, featureless, except for the most elemental outlines, eulogize no one person in particular. Just as well, for they could be War and Peace seated side by side. Or Men and Women. Those who served on the Frontlines or those on the Homefront. The Living and the Dead.

If these objects are not the memorial, what are they? What is the memorial then? These outward forms are a monument. They symbolize the achievements of our veterans. And rightfully so. Their visual richness, full of symbolism, the weight of words, not jingoistic or chauvinist, but appropriately solemn and respectful. However, by themselves, these elements do not create a memorial.

The memorial is the void within. That empty space, not bare, but simple and stark. A sacred but not religious space. It is the void in people’s lives. The space of years spent far from home, some never to return. It is the memories of a graying man, who can still see through the mists, the faces of his buddies, as if they were still standing next to him once more. It is the child, awestruck by the colorful flags floating in the breeze, carried high by soldiers in crisp uniforms, fit and sharp, who also see that graying man, and his salty tears and cryptic smile and smiles back, full of wonder. That is the only true memorial.

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Status: Competition Entry
Location: Silver Springs Township [US-PA]