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In Memory of Memorials
By James Monahan

Memorials are landmarks, occasions, celebration, or even institutions and organization put up to pay tribute to important events or personalities. These memorials can be found in every culture and in every generation.

Man has always been a sentimental lot. Every culture places great importance on the memorable events and personalities that grace their history. However, man is also a forgetful lot. This leads him to erect monuments and feast days to make sure that these important memories do not fade into obscurity.

In the early days, memorials would take the simple form of a pile of rocks that symbolized some important event. Often, these landmarks would also mark the grave of a loved one.

As man settled down in cities, the monuments he built as memorials grew in size and complexity. The ancient Egyptians, for example, built the Pyramids as a memorial to its departed kings, who were regarded as gods.

Around 90 of these pyramids were built to house the remains of the various pharaohs and statesmen that lived in Egypt. Pyramids usually towered 50 stories height and were made from around 2.5 million block, each weighing about 2.5 metric tons. If ever there was a memorial that was truly enormous in magnitude and significance, this was it.

The Hebrews were also known for elaborate feast days to commemorate many different occasions such as victory in war, and important historical events.

The Mayan culture depicted its kings in battle on stone monuments called stelae. As with most cultures, the glories and miseries of battle are a favorite theme for memorials.

The Romans were more deliberate (and political ) in their establishment of monuments. The Empire's senate would usually commission artisans, craftsmen, and masons to periodically build monuments sometimes out of sheer whimsy and out of the rich coffers of the State.

The Taj Mahal in India is one of the most beautiful examples of a memorial in existence. The Taj Mahal was built by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal.

Construction of the edifice started a year after Mumtaz' death, which was in 1631. It took, in all, 21 year for the Taj Mahal and its surrounding gardens to be completed.

Today numerous memorials, like the Lincoln Memorial which houses a huge sitting statue of Abraham Lincoln, dot the American Landscape. And only fitting so, since America is a land rich with historical significance.

In many countries there exist monuments to the fallen brave during war. This is quite a departure from the ancient monuments that showed victorious kings trumping through battle.

Today's society is more sympathetic to the sacrifices of the gallant soldiers who offered their lives in battle for their motherland.

But not all memorials take tangible form. In most cultures, there exist yearly memorial dates and feasts. Dates such as Thanksgiving Day, Christmas, Labor Day, Independence Day populate the country's calendar year after year.

There are also memorial dates that come once in a decade or a century. An example of such is the 50th anniversary of the bombing of Pear Harbor.

Memorials are a part of history and self-determination. As said once, those who do not pay attention to history are doomed to repeat it. These memorials are a testament to the human experience and are a sentimental proof to its value of history and culture.


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