For this edition of Iconic Friday, we’ll be taking a look at five war memorials from around the globe, reflecting briefly on what makes them, well, iconic: namely, their significance as memorials. Without further ado, we shall begin with —
5. The Korean War Veterans Memorial: Located directly southeast of the Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall, this site is dedicated to all of the veterans who “answered the call to defend a country they never knew and a people they never met” from 1950 to 1953. The 19 stainless steel statues represent members of the four branches of the American armed forces, and the reflecting pool is flanked by bricks engraved with the numbers of dead, wounded, captured and missing persons from the US and the United Nations. Visitors are also reminded of the enduring truth that “freedom is never free.”
4. Yasukuni Shrine: This Shinto shrine located in a suburb of Tokyo, Japan serves as the spiritual resting place of anyone who died on behalf of the Emperor of Japan. Since its founding in 1869, religious authorities have enshrined over 2.4 million men, women and children who had rendered services to the erstwhile Empire of Japan at some point of their lives. This includes relief workers, factory workers, citizens, foreigners and 14 convicted war criminals from World War II. This is due to the belief that everyone is equal, and social status, living deeds or misdeeds will not improve or hinder one’s chances for enshrinement as a kami, or “spirit.”
3. Arc de Triomphe: Taking strong inspiration from the ancient Roman triumphal arch of Titus, this 50-meter-tall memorial on Paris’ Champs-Élysées stands as a monument to the soldiers who fought and died for France in the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. Dedicated in 1836 after almost thirty years of construction, the Arc has seen triumphal marches and processions of soldiers from France, Germany and the Allies of World War II, as well as a biplane flying under the wide arch in 1920. Victor Hugo’s body was also exposed to the public on the night of May 22, 1885 before his burial in the Panthéon.
2. Valle de los Caídos (Valley of the Fallen): This Spanish memorial is unique in that it commemorates those who died during the Spanish Civil War and serves as the home of a Benedictine Catholic basilica. Conceived by the Nationalist dictator Francisco Franco, the site is famous for its towering 500-feet-tall stone cross, standing over some 40,000 remains and the Minor Basilica of Santa Cruz, where Franco is buried in a simple tomb marked with his name.
1. Tomb of the Unknowns: On the grounds of Arlington National Cemetery, the Tomb is actually a collection of several smaller tombs of unknown soldiers laid to rest in 1921, and after World War II and the Korean War. The 1931 sarcophagus was built in place of the 1921 tomb of the World War I soldier, who was awarded the Medal of Honor and the Victoria Cross posthumously. On the east panel of the tomb, three engraved Greek figures represent peace, victory and valor, and on the west panel the words “Here Rests in / Honored Glory / an American / Soldier / Known but to God” can be seen.
Photo Source — Wikimedia