On October 13, 1929, Joze Plecnik, Slovenian architect, revealed his memorial to Napoleon Bonaparte on the Square of the French Revolution in Ljubljana, Slovenia. A major influence on the architecture of Slovenia, Plecnik was not a favorite of the communists after World War II and fell from influence. Plecnik and others have left beautiful, imposing, or impressive memorials and monuments to remind us of those memorialized. Here we list 10 of the author’s favorites, not necessarily the most famous or biggest, but the ones that touch or impress me the most. Which monuments and memorials would you put on a list?
10. Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument, Cleveland, Ohio, 1894.
Built to commemorate the soldiers and sailors that served in the Civil War from Cuyahoga County, Ohio, the monument is a familiar landmark to anyone that visits downtown Cleveland, with a 125 foot tall black granite shaft rising from the middle, and each of the 4 sides bearing a sculpture (Soldiers Aid Society, Beginning of the War, End of the War, and Emancipation of the Slaves). The memorial even has an interior compartment containing tablets naming all those who served the Union from Cuyahoga County, 9000 in all. (Note: Some believe the memorial is a paranormal hotspot, perhaps haunted!)
9. Lincoln Memorial, Washington, D.C., 1922.
A moving experience to see Mr. Lincoln looking somberly down from his great chair, especially upon the great-grandchildren of the slaves he freed. Over 6 and half million visitors a year come to share the experience. Lincoln’s dignity and sadness are eerily captured in the sculpture by artist Daniel Chester French. Whether by coincidence or design, the Lincoln statue’s fingers depict the sign language A and L of his own initials.
8. Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia, 1864.
Established as a Civil War cemetery by the US government on the grounds of Robert E. Lee’s home, this military cemetery has the graves of 400,000 American military veterans. The cemetery was racially segregated until July 26, 1948, when President Truman signed an executive order to end such segregation. Numerous other memorials are located on the grounds of the cemetery to various events and disasters.
7. USS Arizona, Pearl Harbor, Oahu, Hawaii, 1962.
Sunk during the Pearl Harbor sneak attack December 7, 1941 with the loss of 1177 lives, the sunken battleship remains under the water with the memorial above it. In 1999 the USS Missouri was anchored adjacent to the Arizona, also as a memorial. After 74 years on the harbor bottom, the Arizona still leaks oil, known as “Arizona’s Tears.”
6. Arc de Triomphe, Paris, France, 1836.
Erected at the order of Napoleon Bonaparte to honor Frenchmen that died in the Revolution and in the “Napoleonic Wars,” there is also a Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (of World War I) located beneath the Arc.
5. Mount Rushmore, South Dakota, 1941.
Consisting of the giant likenesses of Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt, exactly the 4 presidents I would pick myself for such a gigantic monument.
4. Tomb of the Unknowns, Washington, D.C., 1921.
Many nations have similar tombs memorializing the anonymous sacrifice of their fighting men (and sometimes women), the idea largely catching on during World War I. Although often referred to as “The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier,” the American version is dedicated to all unidentified US service personnel that gave their lives in combat and does not officially have a name for the monument. These are somber and thought provoking memorials.
3. Iwo Jima Memorial, Washington, D.C., 1954.
Commemorating one of the fiercest battles in US history, this famous statue is a recreation of the massively famous Joe Rosenthal photograph of the flag raising on Mount Suribachi during the battle for Iwo Jima during World War II. The memorial is dedicated to all Marines who gave their lives defending the United States since 1775, and shows 5 Marines and a Navy Corpsman raising the flag.
2. Washington Monument, Washington, D.C., 1885.
The tallest man-made structure in the world until the Eiffel Tower, the 555 foot tall marble obelisk is the tallest monumental column in the world. Situated where it can be seen from a long way off in every direction, the monument dominates the city of Washington, D.C.. Visitors may climb the 898 internal steps and 50 landings to the top. Its stark simplicity and massive size is overwhelming.
1. Taj Mahal, Agra, India, 1643-1653.
Built to honor the favorite wife of the Mughal Emperor, this is a giant and immensely ornate complex of buildings and grounds that took 20,000 workers 21 years to complete. Famous world wide, over 3 million visitors per year look in awe at its splendor.
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