Author: Matthew Friedman

The Memorial Project: Wars of America Memorial, Military Park, Newark, NJ

A crowd of 4,000 gathered in the chilly, late-spring rain to dedicate a memorial to America’s war dead in Newark’s Military Park. It was 1926, only seven-and-a-half years since the guns fell silent at the end of the Great War. Veterans stood on the dais shoulder-to-shoulder with New Jersey Governor Harry Moore, Newark Mayor Thomas Raymond, and a handful of uniformed Army and Navy officers. Secretary of the Navy Curtis Wilbur addressed the crowd: “The monument dedicated today is intended to express, as nearly as can be done in bronze and stone, our sense of obligation to the soldiers...

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The Memorial Project: National September 11 Memorial and Museum, New York, NY

The World Trade Center’s twin towers fell on 11 September 2001. Almost immediately, Americans began to seek closure, even if the term hadn’t yet fully worked its way into their daily vocabulary. Writing in the New York Times ten weeks later, Shaila Dewan recalled that the idea of “closure” might first have appeared in the public imagination in the wake of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, when Timothy McVeigh killed a 168 people… Or maybe it was the Monica Lewinsky scandal, or South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission… It was, nevertheless, still a new concept in 2001, “a shorthand...

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The Memorial Project: Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Washington, DC

There are 58,318 names on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, marking the deaths of a generation of young men, and eight women, in the United States’ military intervention in Southeast Asia between 1956 and 1975. The names are engraved in highly polished black marble set into the earth in Constitution Gardens at the western end of the National Mall. The memorial reveals itself gradually to visitors as they pass long the path skirting the lake: a memory first glimpsed, and then only fully apprehended as they confront it directly. At certain times of the morning, in the spring...

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Liberation Monument, Liberty State Park, NJ

Located at the far southern end of Liberty State Park in New Jersey, across the Hudson River from New York City, the Liberation Monument inspires a wide range of responses. Joggers stretching at the base of its massive plinth often seem oblivious to the dramatic sculpture towering above; picnickers at the tables in the recreation area just to the west sometimes gaze at it in a blend of curiosity and puzzlement. More often, however, passersby – alone, with a dog on leash, or with a child in a stroller – stop, look up, and contemplate for a moment the...

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How America remembers: An Introduction

The Memorial Project is a photographic history of American memorial practice since 1865. Using film photography to document monuments, artifacts, and spaces of collective and official public memory, the project aims to interrogate “how America remembers.” It is a voyage of discovery through narratives of the past, to significant events of national and community trauma, and to processes of healing and reconciliation. He came down the stairs on the right: a man in his late-60s, or early 70s, walking slowly, with a slight stoop. He passed along the long stone slab bearing the names of the fallen from right to left,...

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