A friend’s Facebook post recently brought me to this piece:
- Bob Ramsay, “Where else can you buy your way onto a war memorial?” Monday 6 April 2015, The Globe and Mail, online at: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-debate/where-else-can-you-buy-your-way-onto-a-war-memorial/article23808495/
I’ve read a few things about the plans underway for the Monument to the Victims of Communism the federal government is helping establish on a large bit of land next to the Supreme Court. A couple of posts by Christopher Dummit on his Everyday History blog have links to several informative sources – one from December 2014, and one from this past January. A few weeks ago I was glad for a research piece about the origins and politics behind the planned memorial published by ActiveHistory.ca:
- Gregor Kranjc, “Memory Politics: Ottawa’s Monument to the Victims of Communism,” ActiveHistory.ca, 14 March 2015, http://activehistory.ca/papers/papershistory-papers-19/
And if you want Rick Mercer’s take, you can read his “Monuments Men” rant here. (No doubt, the video version is available too.)
Collectively, commentators all emphasize how unusual the proposed monument is. Ramsay doubts “there’s a nation on Earth where anyone can buy their way onto a war memorial,” and that would be my guess too. But this proposed thing isn’t a war memorial, which gets back to the point about being unusual.
Whatever it is, memorializing wealth, power, and elite leadership is a very old tradition. Tombs and graveyard monuments come to mind; commissioned portraits, busts and statues do too. I came across a Toronto Star piece with insight into this tradition.
- Brendan Kennedy, “Ted Rogers statue leaves sour taste among Blue Jays fans,” Thursday 9 April 2015, TheStar.com, http://www.thestar.com/sports/bluejays/2015/04/09/ted-rogers-statue-leaves-sour-taste-among-blue-jays-fans.html
It’s about the decision that Rogers Communication made to unveil a statue of former head Ted Rogers in the middle of the 2013 baseball season outside Rogers Centre, where the Blue Jays play. So, yes: the big dome stadium has the Rogers name on it, the team that plays inside is owned by Rogers, most of the media platforms that broadcast and report on the team are Rogers-owned, the technology many of us use to watch the Jays is purchased from Rogers, and now there’s a statue of the great former leader for us. The statue reminds me of the statue of Timothy Eaton that used to be just inside the entrance to the Eaton’s Centre, when there was still an Eaton’s there. (It’s now at the ROM, according to Wikipedia. And you can find one in Winnipeg too.)
Historically, however, corporate and personal vanity were checked when it came to memorializing death and service in war, even in the many examples of corporate memorials to employees who served and died. Certainly, the public memorials (the official ones, the ones by community groups and service organizations) all focus attention on blood sacrifice and war service – not money sacrifice, and memorial service.