Sunday, May 01, 2005

Monuments to Patriotism

While doing the usual tourist rounds, there are times when you are blase, and times when you are moved overwhelmingly. Depends on where you are and whom you are with. Being with a bunch of gregarious jocks making PJs every other minute means you are probably having too much fun to really pay attention. I am also wary of tourist guidebook hype, as buying into it even partially means that you may be underwhelmed. However, there are places that move you irrespective of that. Some of these moments are achingly simple - on a trip to Ground Zero (the WTC site in NYC) in the winter of 2003, I saw bouquets stuck into the chain link fencing surrounding the site. 2 1/2 years after the incident, it was a touching gesture of remembrance from some people for their loved ones.

There are other monuments that affect you with the sheer power of imagery. One of them is: The sculpture commemorating Gandhiji's Dandi March. This sculpture, located in Delhi feels alive, and is evocative of the fact that the Mahatma was able to make millions of Indians follow his path of non-violence to freedom. It is one of those things that invokes a sense of patriotism in my mind. (other things include hearing a military band playing the Indian national anthem, and watching A R Rahman's Vande Mataram video)

Photograph here

Another great monument in the US is the Vietnam War memorial. All it is , is a simple black marble wall with the names of every soldier who died in the War. The difference between this, and say, India Gate which too has the names of soldiers inscribed on it is the fact that this is accessible. You see people looking for former war buddies, parents and siblings. Tears are not uncommon, and there is a respectful silence if someone like that comes by.

However, my favorite of the War memorials in Washington DC is the Marine Corps Memorial across the Potomac in Arlington,VA. The memorial is based on the Pulitzer award winning photograph of the raising of the US flag in Iwo Jima in Japan. The sculpture itself is amazing and it is one of those that makes your heart swell with pride at the achievement of the soldiers. It is part of an important epoch in this century's history, and the sculpture sure does it justice.

There's a photograph here

Edit: Inline image links going bad on me. Added direct links to the images.

1 comment:

Sumedha said...

I was similarly moved by the Holocaust Memorial in Boston. It is simply built but those many, many names etched in stone tell their own story...