Niagara Gazette

Local News

November 10, 2012

Historian: Monuments to early U.S. vets were overdue

Niagara Gazette — ALBANY — When Americans gather Sunday at war memorials, battle monuments and military cemeteries to honor the nation's veterans, it may appear to some that such places have existed since the United States was founded 236 years ago.

Not so, says the author of a newly published book that details the nation's belated, haphazard approach to establishing formal memorials, monuments and marked burial sites for veterans of its earliest wars.

In his book, "Memories of War: Visiting Battlegrounds and Bonefields In The Early American Republic" (Cornell University Press), Thomas Chambers writes that it was well into the 19th century before Americans seriously began considering marking Revolutionary War and War of 1812 battlefields with monuments and memorials, and how in some instances the skeletal remains of the fallen remained unburied for decades.

It wasn't until after the vast bloodletting of the Civil War that the nation took retroactive steps to pay tribute to those earlier veterans, Chambers said. Up until then, America was "too busy building economies and cities and growing and expanding to necessarily worry about the past," he said.

The practice of erecting war monuments while battles are still fresh in everyone's memory dates to ancient times. The Romans excelled at it, perhaps most famously with Trajan's Column, a 125-foot-tall marble structure featuring a continuous relief depicting their legions defeating the Dacians in the early second century A.D. Napoleon Bonaparte, never shy about touting his own martial successes, ordered the construction of Arc de Triomphe after his victory at Austerlitz in 1806. Today it's one of France's most famous monuments.

"It's not new," Chambers said, "it's just that Americans take a lot longer to get around to doing it than others do."

Chambers, a history professor at Niagara University in western New York, said it wasn't until the 50th anniversary of the Revolutionary War approached in the mid-1820s that Americans really took notice of the nation's dearth of monuments at the places where the patriots fought and died.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local News
Featured Ads
Seasonal Content
House Ads
AP Video
Power to Be Restored After Wash. Wildfire Crashed Air Algerie Plane Found in Mali Israel Mulls Ceasefire Amid Gaza Offensive In Case of Fire, Oxygen Masks for Pets Mobile App Gives Tour of Battle of Atlanta Sites Anti-violence Advocate Killed, but Not Silenced. Dempsey: Putin May Light Fire and Lose Control Arizona Prison Chief: Execution Wasn't Botched Calif. Police Investigate Peacock Shooting Death Raw: Protesters, Soldiers Clash in West Bank Police: Doctor Who Shot Gunman 'Saved Lives' 'Modern Family' Star on Gay Athletes Coming Out MN Twins Debut Beer Vending Machine DA: Pa. Doctor Fired Back at Hospital Gunman Raw: Iowa Police Dash Cam Shows Wild Chase
Opinion
House Ads
Night & Day
Twitter News
Follow us on twitter
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Front page
Poll

Do you think cigarette sales to non-Native American customers should be taxed on reservations?

Yes. Items should be taxed like they are everywhere else.
No, the indian reservations are sovereign land and they are selling them on their land.
Not up to me. Native Americans decide the rules on their land.
Don't care. Smoking isn't good for you.
     View Results