Monumental Decisions: 2018 National Book Festival

Monumental Decisions: 2018 National Book Festival


>>Jon Parrish Peede:
Good morning. And welcome to the
18th annual Library of Congress National
Book Festival. I’m Jon Parrish Peede,
I’m the chairman of the National Endowment
for the Humanities. And NEH is proud to sponsor
this year’s Understanding Our World stage. An independent federal agency,
NEH was established in 1965 under LBJ as part of the
great society legislation. And we’re rooted with our sister
agency NEA, still in that cause. Our agency supports museum
exhibitions, documentaries, books that bring history,
literature, philosophy, archaeology, and the other
humanities fields to the public. We fund the preservation of historic records,
collections, objects. We sponsor the educational
opportunities for K12 teachers across this nation and for
students in the humanities. And we underride fundamental
research across the disciplines of the humanities
at universities and for independent
scholars across this nation. And so it is my absolute
pleasure to be here to introduce this panel,
Monumental Decisions, which will be led by four
scholars for thinkers and writers and their
book signings will be on the lower level shortly
after this program at 11.30. In terms of NEH, we have always
taken an interest in memorials. I can say, for example,
in 1979, the same year that the Vietnam Veterans
Memorial Fund was created, NEH issued a grant for
a national symposium on issues raised by the memorial
and plans for an archive of the soldiers’
experiences in Southeast Asia. Our four guests have devoted
so much time and research and wisdom to contemplating
the complexity of who gets remembered
in wars and why. And how the narrative of war
changes in response over time. So our panelists include
professor Kristin Hass, James Reston Jr,
Professor Kirk Savage, and our moderator
is Brent D. Glass. Of course, many of us
in Washington know him as director emeritus of the Smithsonian’s National
Museum of American History. He’s a public scholar. He particularly advanced the
area of oral scholarship, oral histories, and
oral narratives. He’s a national leader
in the preservation and interpretation of history. Glass also served as
a member for a decade of the Flight 93 Memorial
Advisory Commission. He is the author of “50
Great American Places, Essential Historic
Sites Across the US.” Brent will introduce our
panelists, so please join me in giving them a warm welcome. [ Applause ]>>Brent D. Glass: Thank
you, Chairman Peede. And welcome everyone. It’s a delight for me
to share this panel. And I do want to recognize
the National Endowment for the Humanities and the
outstanding support they give to scholarship in the
humanities for many, many years. And all of us on this panel I
believe have benefited and many of us in the audience
have benefited for the support from NEH. So it’s a real honor to chair
this panel sponsored by NEH. We, the subject of statues
and monuments and memorials of course is not a new issue. But I think not since the time
of Licinius, in the 4th century, Licinius tore down some statues
of the emperor Constantine and triggered a civil war, not
since that time has there been so much contention
and discussion about statues and memorials. And our panelists today are very
well prepared to talk about it. But with such a good audience
and an engaged audience, we’ve left time at the
end of this session for you to participate. So it’s very important that
we have your reaction to some of the issues that will be
raised here this morning. So Kristin Hass is the associate
professor in the department of American culture and director
of the Humanities Collaboratory at the University of Michigan. She has written two books,
“Sacrificing Soldiers on the National Mall; A Study of
Militarism, Race, War Memorials, and US Nationalism,” and
the other book is “Carried to the Wall; American Memory and
the Vietnam Veterans Memorial; an Exploration of Playback
Memorial Practices, Material Culture Studies, and the Legacies of
the Vietnam War.” Kirk Savage is the Dietrich
professor of History, Art, and Architecture at the
University of Pittsburgh. He is the editor of “The
Civil War in Art and Memory,” the author of two books,
“Standing Soldiers, Kneeling Slaves; Race,
War, and Monument in 19th Century America,”
which is just out from Princeton University
Press in its second edition, and also “Monument
Wars; Washington DC, the National Mall,
and the Transformation of the Memorial Landscape.” James Reston Jr is the author
of 18 books, including “Warriors of God” and “The
Conviction of Richard Nixon,” which inspired the play
turned film “Frost/Nixon.” He has also written three
plays, numerous articles in national magazines, and
an award winning documentary about the 1978 Jonestown
massacre. His last five historical
works have been translated into 13 languages. “Warriors of God” is an
international bestseller with over 200,000 copies
sold and still selling. Which I think is
always good news. “Fragile Innocence,”
another one of his books, is a memoir of bringing up
his handicapped daughter. And it reached number eight on the Washington
Post bestseller list. His new book is “A Rift
in the Earth; Art, Memory, and the Fight for a
Vietnam War Memorial.” So please welcome our panel. [ Applause ] And what we’re going to
do is this is divided into really four parts. First, I’ve asked our
panel to talk a little bit about the intellectual path that
led them to write their books on monuments and memorials. Second, we will talk about their
thoughts concerning memorials on the National Mall, especially
those that have been inspired by the Vietnam Veterans
Memorial, but memorials that have appeared
around the country since the Veterans War
Memorial has been dedicated. And then the third part of
our panel will be to talk about making monuments and
what we should be thinking about about the monuments that were dedicated
more than 100 years ago. As a result of the
commemoration of the Civil War. And finally will be your turn to ask us questions
or make comments. So just leading off, I will
just mention briefly why I came to write “50 Great
American Places.” And David McCullough, who wrote
the forward to the book said to me “Write the book that
you would want to read.” And the book I wanted
to read had three goals. One was to inspire
history education. Second was to encourage
people to go out and visit historic places. And the third goal was to
encourage the preservation of our historic sites. Now several other sites that
I write about are also related to the memorial landscape
of America. There’s the USS Arizona
and Pearl Harbor, the Salem Witch Trial memorial
in Salem, Massachusetts, of course the National Mall,
the Memorial at Wounded Knee, South Dakota, and also
the Statue of Liberty. And I may have a few comments to
make about the Statue of Liberty because it’s a great
illustration of how some memorials wind up
in the public consciousness in a very different
way, have us thinking in a very different
way, than how, what they were originally
conceived to be. But I want to stop and let our
panel discuss the intellectual biography of the books, how they
came to write what they wrote about memorials and monuments. And Kristin Hass, would
you please lead off.>>Kristin Ann Hass:
I’d be happy to. Good morning. I started with an
interest in patriotism in how patriotism works, in
where that you hear the anthem and you get a hit of emotion. I was really interested in how
that came to be, who made it. I was a hippie kid from northern
California and understood myself to be intensely patriotic. And I was, as a young girl,
fascinated by the First Ladies, which for my demographic
was fairly unusual. And I wasn’t interested in
the First Ladies’ dresses, I was interested in for women
who couldn’t have access to the highest office, what it
was like to stand next to that. I was interested in emotional, the emotional power
of patriotism. And that led me to an
interest in public history. Who gets to make public history? What are the stories we tell
each other and ourselves about who we are and
how we came to be? And that interest in public
history led me after I graduated from college to an
unpaid internship at the National Museum
of American History. And my first job there
was to work on an exhibit on everyday life in
the 20th century. What are the objects that would
tell the story of American life in the 20th century to the
millions of middle schoolers who move through that building? The dress that Elizabeth
Eckford wore on that famous day
in Little Rock. I was, so I was spending all
my time thinking about kind of what are the objects
that tell our story? Because it was an unpaid
internship, I was a nanny. And I had an hour
to myself every day. So I was running around the Mall
and running around the Mall. I went by the Vietnam Memorial,
first time noticing the objects, the boots, the flags, the
flowers, the unexpected toys, second time thinking
“What is this?” Third time stopping in
my tracks and saying “This is an incredible
expression of patriotism,” but also a making of public
history that was unsolicited, that was, at that time,
now there’s a tragedy and everybody brings their
stuff, that did not happen in the United States,
it’s ubiquitous now, it didn’t happen before the
Vietnam Veterans Memorial. So I brought my interests
in the emotion of patriotism and the mechanics of patriotism and how public history
more broadly is made to a study of those objects. And that’s the produced
my description, and then my first book
“Carried to the Wall.” And I wrote about
why that mattered. And the second book
is a follow-up. I was interested in
the objects still, but I was really interested
in how the Vietnam Memorial, the objects, the place itself, transformed memorial
practices going forward.>>Brent D. Glass: Thank you. Jim Reston. “Rift in the Land.”>>James Reston Jr: So
I’m a veteran that was in the Army from 1965 to 1968. Fortunately only by
happenstance, not in Vietnam. And afterwards, I became very
involved in the Amnesty Movement for the return of war
resistors to the United States who had gone into exile. And the first, the service in the Army gave me a
very deep understanding and sympathy for the soldier. Especially the soldier
who is at risk. And the experience with amnesty
gave me a very deep interest in the whole question
of reconciliation. But particularly reconciliation
after a divisive war. Of course, I was
focused with amnesty on reconciliation after Vietnam. But the historical parallel
of the post-Civil War period with its amnesties
were southern soldiers and southern leaders,
was a real parallel. And the real argument
for a universal amnesty for Vietnam war resistors. So in a way with this current
book, I was returning to some of those old emotional roots. I always think that beyond
intellectual interest in a subject, it’s
a very good thing to have an emotional
connection to it. And in this case, there
were two emotional roots. One was that I was a good
friend of Frederick Hart, who is the sculptor
of the three soldiers at the Vietnam Memorial. The sculptures probably
saved the building of a Vietnam Memorial
at all, as controversial as they are artistically. So I was very interested in
my interchanges with Rick Hart about the battle over
the Vietnam Memorial. The second is that I
have one colleague, fellow GI, who’s on the wall. Who was killed in Hue,
Vietnam, January 30th, 1968. As the north Vietnamese came
in invading the city of Hue. And so in a way, I personally
experienced the very heart and the very essence of the
Vietnam Wall of Maya Lin that the survivors of
Vietnam look at their friends who are lost and see their own
image reflected in that wall. It was the third
impulse, not so noble, that my daughter may have
finished her master’s degree at Dartmouth in Vietnam studies. And I went to her graduation
ceremony and we had a chance to talk to her advisor,
who was an advisor to Ken Burns’ Vietnam, magnificent Vietnam
documentary series. And this was some time ago. And I asked this scholar when
is the Ken Burns thing going to happen? And he said “oh, not
for two years from now.” So I thought two years, that’s about the time it
takes to write a book? And “A Rift in the Earth” was
published the day before Ken Burns’ documentary came
to national television.>>Kristin Ann Hass:
Well done, well done.>>Brent D. Glass: Very
good timing, thank you. Kirk Savage. Talk a little bit about
the background that led you to write what you’re
writing, but then lead us into the next question. Which is thinking about
memorials and monuments, especially here in Washington, since the Vietnam
Veterans Memorial. But other examples if you
choose to, since that’s high.>>Kirk Savage: Okay so
I’m kind of a scholar, a one-note scholar,
I’ve been writing about public monuments
for over 30 years. I got interested in them as a college student
in Westminster Abby. I was fortunate to
study in London. And seeing these incredible
sort of public tomb monuments to these figures and trying to
understand why they were erected and what they were doing. So I really came in through
the art history side of things. But when the Vietnam Veterans
Memorial was being erected, I just became fascinated with
the controversy surrounding it. You know, I too grew up
in the Vietnam War Era. So I had a lot of ties with,
my parents were involved with the anti-war movement. But the controversy itself
was what really engaged me. How was it that formal design
questions could suddenly become so emotionally significant? So politically significant
to people? And really trying to understand
the how and why of that. So it was kind of the perfect
marriage of art and politics, which were really my two,
my two key interests. And so that’s how I got into
actually starting to write about public monuments. And then from there, I realized
the Washington monument, in the 19th century, was kind of
the mother of all controversies. And I began writing on that and that propelled my
interest in the National Mall. Subsequent to that, I got the
idea of writing a dissertation on Civil War memorials,
which people in art history thought was
an absolutely ridiculous idea because you know, they were
artistically insignificant and so on, so forth. That, for me again, it
was all about why were so many monuments erected,
and you know, from both sides in the war and what was their
function, their purpose, and why were people so invested
in them became the questions that I got interested in. It was only through that process
of doing my research that more and more and more I
became really, became more and more aware of the importance
of the story of slavery and emancipation in the
erection of Civil War memorials. And so that’s really what
my first book became about. Was really how was the story of
slavery and emancipation told in the memorial landscape
after the Civil War. And I, you know, I have
ancestors on both sides of the war, but my father’s
family was from Alabama. And with deep roots there. And so that also partly drove
my interests, particularly in the Confederate monuments and
trying to grapple, really reckon in a serious way, with the
history of what I came to see as a history of white supremacy that lay behind the
Confederate memorials. So you wanted me
to segue into– .>>Brent D. Glass: Yes, I’m going to just check our
time and we’re doing well. I just thought it
would be useful from your perspective
here to talk a little bit about monument making in
the last 40 years and how that has been influenced
by legislation, how it’s been influenced
by just the experience of the Vietnam Veterans
Memorial. And then from Kristin and
Jim to also comment on that. We want to have sort
of a conversation. But I do want to
reserve some time to talk about what’s been even in
this morning’s New York Times, another article about
the statue at University of North Carolina Chapel Hill and then also allow our
audience to participate. So please.>>Kirk Savage: Right. So you know, the Vietnam
Veterans Memorial really was a game-changer, you
know, in the history of monuments in the
United States. And you know, my other panelists
can talk more about this. But the, really the
public monument as a form was more
abundant at the time that that memorial was erected. And the incredible
outpouring of response to it, it’s kind of immediate,
visceral success that it had, really changed the
way everybody thought about public monuments
at that time. It certainly drew in tons
of scholarly attention. But also tons of
popular attention to it. And now all of a sudden, local
communities and other groups, veterans groups, wanted to
build monuments as well. And many of them following in
some way or another some formula that was pioneered by Maya Lin in the Vietnam Veterans
Memorial. And so that’s what then really
has led to the transformation of the Mall in the late 20th
century with the addition of the Korean War Memorial
and the World War II Memorial and now we have several
memorials authorized to even more recent
wars, the global war on terror, for example. And just to put this in context,
there really was legislation, you know, after the Vietnam
Veterans Memorial was erected. And kind of monuments
were now revived. The congress began to
worry about the fact that there was a limited space
in the city, particularly in the Mall area,
for new monuments. And so they adopted the
commemorative work sac, which was supposed
to put the brakes on new memorial construction. And created certain
rules like a memorial to a person could only
be erected 25 years after that person’s death. A memorial to a war could
only be erected 10 years after the declared
end of that war. And that legislation of course
has been honored in the breach because many new
proposals have come forward which have gotten exemptions
from that legislation, like the Vietnam Veterans
Memorial education center. And now most recently the global
war on terror, which is a war that is not only not over yet but it’s arguably never
going to be over in theory. So we have a situation now that
is really very, very different from where we started with
the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in ’82.>>Brent D. Glass: Kristin?>>Kristin Ann Hass:
I would add to that that in the United States, there have been two
big memorial booms, two periods in which there was
intense interest in memory, more broadly public
memory, more broadly, and memorials in particular. And the first, it’s kind
of important to understand, was in the period
from 1890 to 1920. And the memorials that were
built in that period were built, they were Civil War memorials. But they came significantly
after the war. And many of them were built
by women’s organizations on both sides, United
Daughters of the Confederacy, Daughters of the
American Revolution, all kinds of local
women’s organizations and national women’s
organizations really dedicated to producing a very particular
memory of the Civil War. And after the first World
War and the second World War, there was very little interest
in monumentality in stone that would make a particular
meaning of those wars. Those wars were remembered by
small, local lists of names in a town square, but
also really importantly, by infrastructure. Especially after the second
World War, World War II veterans in their American
Legion meetings and their local newspapers
were very explicit that they wanted infrastructure. My daughter, who’s in the
second row, went through much of her life wearing a
t-shirt that said “Vets.” Because she swam for the
Veterans Memorial swim team. Didn’t really occur
to her necessarily that she was honoring the
service, the incredible service, of Americans during the
second World War, but in fact, that’s what they wanted. They wanted kids to have
pools and basketball courts and it was Jan Scruggs and Maya
Lin’s Vietnam Veterans Memorial that changed that. That made memorials
mattered again and that inspired
this incredible, short-term transformation
of the National Mall. And I spent a lot of time kind
of deep diving into the minutes of the meetings where
people argued about the Korean War
Veterans Memorial, the World War II
Memorial, the unbuilt but completely fascinating
Black Revolutionary War Patriots Memorial. The Women’s Memorial, women
in military service memorial, which fascinating, was kind
of paid for by the Saudis and the Kuwaitis, which
is super interesting. And the National
Japanese American Memorial to patriotism during
World War II. So these memorials, built
in this period, entirely and explicitly both
inspired by the wall and in response to the wall. And in the case of two big
and most successful memorials, the Second World War memorial and the Korean War Veterans
Memorial, corrective. Explicitly corrective. We are going to fix what’s
wrong with the Vietnam Memorial, what’s wrong with the
Vietnam Memorial in the view of the people who wanted to
build these other memorials was that these same eighth
graders who were going through the National Museum of
American History were coming to the Mall to this important
side of national pilgrimage, and learning that dying in an
American War could be tragic. And wasn’t necessarily heroic. And in an era of
all-volunteer military, tricky. And so those memorials
were built in response.>>Brent D. Glass: Jim, I
want to ask you to comment on what we’ve heard so far about
the National Mall and the impact of the Vietnam War Memorial. But I’m also going to
challenge you to then take us into a conversation about
the Confederate memorial, the statues and, because I
know you care deeply about that as well as a graduate of UNC. And someone who’s thought
about this quite a bit. So please take– .>>James Reston Jr: So if
you have a look at “A Rift in the Earth,” you’ll see that
I have a color section in there of the [inaudible] of other
concepts by other artists for a Vietnam memorial. And you see in those [inaudible]
the struggle that artists went through to try to conceptualize
what would be appropriate for a lost war. And nobody can look at
those other examples without thinking
how lucky we were that Maya Lin had her
concept for this thing. One of the things that
interests me immensely about the Vietnam Memorial
today is the evolution of it since it was built. In my view, it is no
longer a veterans memorial. It’s become globalized. It’s become internationalized. As a memorial for everyone. At the beginning, it was
as if the veterans had, it was their proprietary
memorial. And it was just for them. But as time has gone
on, it’s changed and it’s become important
to everybody. It’s also in a way no
longer about Vietnam. It’s become internationalized
and made universal. Universalized I should
say, as a comment, a commentary on all wars. The Vietnam memorial is
about the cost of war. And that’s universal. That’s a universal theme. And it’s one that will make
that memorial live forever. It’s also, as they’ve
said, been a game-changer for belonged of all
war memorials. For example, when
I went to Vietnam, there is a memorial north of
the DMZ which is a memorial for the dead of the north
Vietnamese in Vietnam. And how do they memorialize
that? By black granite slabs with the
names of the dead in Vietnamese. So that’s an example
of how, what the impact of this artistic concept
of remembering war not for its glory and its
service necessarily, but simply for the cost and
the carnage of warfare itself. The whole thing about
the evolution of Civil War memorials is also
a theme here it seems to me. That when I was a
student at Chapel Hill and a professor there
for 10 years, the Silent Sam statue
was a joke figure. It was this sort of
generic, interesting statue with a soldier holding a gun. And he was Silent Sam because
he shot his gun off whenever a virgin walked by. That joke is actually not
unique to Chapel Hill. My daughter, for
example, went to Cornell, and on the Cornell campus, there
are statues of the two founders that face one another
and there are footsteps in between the two statues. And the notion is that
whenever a virgin walked by, the two statues,
statuary figures got up and met one another in the
middle and shook hands. So Silent Sam was
a totally benign, uninteresting, forgotten piece. And suddenly by honestly
some very fine scholarship, this 1913 dedication of
the statue was discovered in all its horror and scurrilous
white supremacist rhetoric. And so suddenly, Silent Sam
takes life as a very vibrant, passionate and scurrilous
symbol of white racism. And what do we do about
this sort of thing? I’ve heard it said what needs
to happen in the South is that there be a movement in
which all of the South is swept. Every small town that
has a Confederate soldier on a pedestal needs to be
swept and these statues taken down in one way or another. I’m very concerned
with the way in which that Silent Sam statue was
torn down and destroyed. It concerns me as a historian
about what is the impact of that kind of action
and where does it lead? Is this basically leading
us towards a concept of the Civil War of glory on the
northern side and humiliation and shame on the confederate
side and therefore any symbol of the Southern Confederacy
is shameful? This leads to book burnings. And I’m, and a, from the
sanitizing, white-washing of history, it leads to, in
my view, a very one-sided, one-minded way of
looking at history.>>Brent D. Glass: Kirk,
you want to add anything? You’ve written, and I was
interested in your book, which has a long section
on monument avenue and the Lee Memorial
in Richmond. And I recommend to the
audience to look at the mayor of Richmond commissioned
a very thoughtful process to evaluate what to do with
monument avenue and it’s online on the City of Richmond’s
website. But I’d like you,
I’m sure you’ve read that and looked at– .>>Kirk Savage: Yeah.>>Brent D. Glass: And
offer your observations in light of what Jim has said.>>Kirk Savage. Sure, well this is
a very vexed issue. I think Jim and I have maybe, are maybe on somewhat
different ends of the spectrum on
this question. As an art historian,
of course I’m inclined for its preservation. If stuff isn’t preserved,
we can’t study it. So that’s a basic
kind of bottom line. The problem is these monuments
that are out in public space that are honored,
they’re honored by virtue of where they are, they were
put up for particular reasons to actually advance
certain agendas. And how do we reckon with that and how do we contest those
agendas now in the present? What’s the right thing to do? There really aren’t a lot
of easy answers to that. My view is that the monuments
themselves sanitize history. They tell a particular
version of history. They were motivated
by white supremacy. And they were meant to
actually celebrate the triumph of white supremacy in the South. And that is a very
difficult pill to swallow now. So I mean I can just
tell you from my own, my personal experience
in Pittsburgh, we had a monument
erected to Stephen Foster, which featured a black,
a barefoot, black, toothless black banjo
player sitting at his feet. And for a long time, it was also
kind of like Silent Sam, a joke, at least within the sort of
white professoriate, like me, it was kind of a joke. But once Charlottesville
happened and those people in the public sphere, particularly the African
American community, felt more empowered to actually
speak up about this statue, we you know, saw how long
they had been living painfully with this monument. For so many years and had
their voices, in fact, they had protested it
at different times, but their voices had been
for the most part ignored. Has to be remembered that public
space is not a level playing field where everybody
has free speech. So public monuments
were erected by people who had the power to erect them. And that power continues. And so that is the problem
that we, I think, face today. And it has changed my thinking. I mean I see a whole range of solutions possible
for monuments. But none of them are easy. And none of them are cost-free. And I do see removal
is one option. That’s in fact what happened to my Stephen Foster
statue, is it’s gone now.>>Brent D. Glass: Right. Well I think it’s
interesting, and I want Kristin to offer a comment
on this as well. But in addition to
reading the report of the monument avenue
commission in Richmond, I recommend to you that you read
Mitchell Andrew’s book recently came out about his decision
and the decision in New Orleans to remove the confederate
statues. So you have one mayor, a
white mayor in New Orleans, removing the symbols
of white supremacy. You have an African
American mayor in Richmond endorsing
a preservation of Civil War monuments. So we’ve got very
interesting conversation going on here in those two cities. And I will add to that
where I went to school and where Jim Reston went
to school at Chapel Hill in North Carolina, Kristin,
and then we’re going to let the audience
have a chance.>>Kristin Ann Hass: I
would just add quickly that it’s important to remember that memorials are
fairly blunt instruments. And they are used as such. And that we don’t need
to hold onto memorials as the keepers of our history. That’s why historians
spend years and hours in the archives, right? There are more subtle
and more complicated ways to tell history. And the reason that people want
these memorials to come down is because they are successfully
doing the work that the people that erected them wanted done. And so they’re working
and that’s a problem. Because of the reasons they
wanted them to be built.>>Brent D. Glass: I’d like to
invite members of the audience to participate for the
remaining time we have. As you come to the
microphone, I would just like to offer my comment on one of the first Civil
War Memorials, which is the Statue of Liberty. Now most people, and this
is what’s fascinating to me about how memorials
change in their concept, the French when they wanted
to gift the Statue of Liberty to the US, it was to
celebrate the preservation of the republic. The preservation of democracy
and the abolition of slavery. And if you look carefully at
the statue of liberty and look at her ankles, there’s a
broken chain on her ankle. That was a symbol of the
abolition of slavery. However, from the late 1860’s
when the statue was conceived, to 1886 when it was finally
dedicated, America had changed, immigration had become a
much more important issue, and the Statue of
Liberty became associated with welcoming immigrants
to America. Emma Lazarus’s poem, which was
written as part of a fundraiser for the pedestal of the statue,
wasn’t placed on the statue until the early 20th century
but it was a well-known poem and really transformed the
statue from a preserving our, the preservation of
American democracy to welcoming immigrants to
the country and a symbol of immigrant, the
value of contribution of immigrants to our country. Now, audience, please.>>Thank you, and thank
you to the panelists. I’d like to direct this
question to Mr. Reston based on your experiences
with Secretary Udall. We’re talking about monuments
today in the form of structures. I’d like to ask about
national monuments. The landscape. In particular, in the
Clinton administration, President Clinton designated
the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument in Utah and President Obama designated
The Bears Ears National Monument in Utah. The first one to be co-managed
by Native American peoples and the US Government. And the current administration
has shrunken the size of both of those monuments. And I wonder, my question
is, what does that say about changing values
in America? And what is the larger
statement about tearing down these structures say
about our values as a country?>>Brent D. Glass: Thank you. Jim, you want to tackle that?>>James Reston Jr: Well,
we had a telephone call. The three of us, the four
of us, about this thing. And the concept arose
called presentism. And the definition of
presentism is the application of values today on past events. It’s a very I think
useful concept for analysis of the Civil War memorial theme. Because it raises the question of how are our values today
playing into how we look at memorials that were
established long ago? And in the case of Silent
Sam at UNC, is it really fair to impose our values
today on a generic statue of a Civil War soldier? You know, that memorial
was so benign for so long, without any of this thing. So suddenly we are meant to
feel what people felt in 1913 in relation to our values. It should be remembered that 483,000 Southern
men were casualties of the American Civil War. And so is at least
a part of the way in which these statues
were erected. And this is where Kirk and
I would have our debate. That those statues were
partly erected for the grief of the loss of Southern boys. And perhaps secondarily for
the whole process of invasion. Not necessarily for the
protection of slavery. But the invasion of
the South by the North. So I think it’s not a
complete explanation to just cast upon all of these
statues that were erected on, about the confederacy in
relation to our values today.>>Brent D. Glass: So
we’ve got five minutes. We’ve got about eight questions. If somebody evicts us, I
will then have to leave. But let’s make the
questions real quick and our panel will answer those.>>I’d like to ask the panel
to focus on Washington DC. Sometimes I worry that monuments
and memorials are like tattoos. That the first one is
glorious and meaningful and the second one is also has
some importance to the subject. And then eventually
you run out of space and your arms are
covered with these things without any coherence or plan. And driving on Independence
Avenue, I look over and see what’s going to be
the new Eisenhower Memorial, and I have no comment on the
artistic value, but it looks like it’s going to
be very large. Aren’t we eventually just
going to run out of space? And if this countries endures
for another 100 or 200 years, there will be no more room
for a monument or a memorial.>>Brent D. Glass:
Kirk, do you want to?>>Kirk Savage: We will. The short answer is we
will run out of space. Partly because monuments
are so much larger now. So we’re talking in
terms of, in Washington, we’re talking in terms of acres. I mean when I saw the, you know, the site for the
Eisenhower memorial, I was thinking why
couldn’t we just go back to the old fashioned
guy on a pedestal? You know, that didn’t
take up very much room. And the problem is that
these monuments live forever. But they actually don’t in
the public consciousness. I mean they become
obsolete after a while. With some exceptions, like
the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. So Philip Kennikott, he’s
from the Washington Post, suggested maybe we could
decommission war memorials after a certain period of
time, like 50 or 60 years.>>Brent D. Glass: We
could have a sunset– .>>Kirk Savage: Sunset and put
them out in Arlington Cemetery with a wonderful ceremony,
and then clear the ground.>>Brent D. Glass: Okay,
let’s have a couple– . Oh, yes.>>Kristin Ann Hass: I just,
I think we need to hope for war memorials to
go out of fashion. We need to come into a period
of greater ideological stability where we don’t need them and
we’ll stop building them.>>Brent D. Glass:
Well let’s see if we can have a question
without a preamble.>>Thank you. A short preamble. My father fought
in the Korean War. And I’d like you to discuss how
the Korean War Memorial came to be, why it took so long. And you said that you’d
done some research in the archives as
to the process? Could you talk a
little bit about that?>>Kristin Ann Hass: So briefly, it was very explicitly
a response to the Vietnam Veterans
Memorial, it was intended as a corrective. It was intended to
be heroic, masculine. And celebratory in the ways that the Vietnam War Memorial
was not perceived to be. The biggest, there were
many debates and fights. The most intense was about race. Everywhere you look,
doesn’t matter if the war memorial doesn’t
seem like it’s going to be about race, it ends
up being about race. The original design had
38 all white figures. Which you know, turned
out to be a problem. And then there was
intense debate about which of the 19 figures in the
final design would be raced in what way. And when I talked to the
sculptor, Frank Gaylord on the telephone, one of the very first things
he said I asked him about the first figure, and he
said “God damn it, he’s white. He has a broad nose,
but he’s white. I’m white, and I
have a broad nose.” So there was intense debate
about how big their lips were, whether or not that made
them look lazy, about whether or not they had limp wrists. So that’s a very short answer
to a super interesting question.>>Thank you.>>Brent D. Glass: I think we’re
going to have the last question? Oh, two minutes, okay, good.>>I have the shortest
question for Mr. Savage for the Lincoln Memorial
on the National Mall, the Emancipation
Proclamation is omitted. Should it be there? And was it omitted
accidently or deliberately?>>Kirk Savage: Well
I’d say deliberately. Because the idea behind
the inscriptions was to try to avoid the issue of slavery. And to turn Lincoln from
the Emancipator figure that he had been to
more of a reunifier. So that’s why they chose
the Gettysburg Address and the second inaugural. Of course, though, the problem
is the second inaugural has this incredible line about slavery
and about how the war was about slavery and
it’s our punishment for the crime of slavery. It’s really the only place
in the memorial landscape of Washington that really
talks about the crime, the historical crime of slavery. So it’s a mixed bat.>>Brent D. Glass:
I encourage you to go read the second inaugural
at the Lincoln Memorial. Of course you can look it up, but it’s more powerful
reading it there. And then the Gettysburg
Address calling for a new birth of freedom I think suggests
what the war was all about. One more question, wrap it up. Sure, Jim.>>James Reston Jr: Well what
we haven’t had time to talk about is this whole thing of contextualizing the
Civil War memorials. And there’s a very interesting
effort to do that in Richmond. And right after 2000, a
Lincoln Memorial was built to go in front of the Civil
War museum in Richmond. It’s a lovely statue with
Lincoln and his son, Ted, who visited Richmond when it was
still smoldering at the very end of the Civil War, he
was very much open to assassination there. So that is meant
to be a counterpart to the monument boulevard thing. But does that really
contextualize monument boulevard? I don’t think so.>>Brent D. Glass: Our
authors will be around all day. Please give them a
round of applause for a wonderful [inaudible]. [ Applause ]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *