On a bitterly, bitingly cold day in 2014—March 26—I rather impulsively jumped in my car and made a 5-hour round trip to Chicopee, Massachusetts, to visit a World War II Memorial: Dedicated on September 24, 1993, this Memorial is unique in both its design and that it honored both women and men who had served.
In four days, I was due to give the keynote speech at a county-wide event honoring World War II Women, sponsored by the League of Women Voters. Although I had finished my illustrated PowerPoint presentation, I decided that visiting and photographing this memorial was just what I needed to give an-over-the-top presentation for the women veterans who were scheduled to attend the event.
Left Image from top to bottom of the 8’ granite memorial: An honorable discharge emblem; partial globe showing the northern hemisphere; circular disk; 5 equidistant granite tablets, jutting out from the center of the monument; a circular granite base; and a circular concrete footing.
Each tablets honor a different branch of the military: Two tablets face each other, one side for men and the other for women. Images in order (click to enlarge): World War II Memorial, Chicopee, MA, tablet for the U.S. Women's Army, women veteran at 2014 event.
Today, with the horrors of war raging, I am remembering two other memorials that deal with the consequences of war. The first memorial, located in downtown Santa Cruz, California, I serendipitously discovered during a 2000 road trip—Collateral Damage: A Reality of War, a figurative sculpture of what appears to be 3 figures clinging together and looking skyward created by
E. A. Chase. (Right image) Chase a self-taught blacksmith and veteran of the Korean War, made a smaller version of the sculpture in 1959 as a memorial to the victims of the atomic bomb the United States dropped on two cities in Japan: Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Chase had offered the sculpture to the United Nations, but was rebuffed.
Fast-forward thirty years when a friend, and member of thee Veterans of Foreign Wars, unearthed the sculpture from Chase’s garage.
A larger version was dedicated on August 5, 1995, the fiftieth anniversary to the day the United States dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. A plaque reads: “In memory of civilians who have died in all wars.” At the time, E. A. Chase told a reporter, “The killing goes on and I think we need to think about what the real consequences of war is, not just who the heroes are and who wins the battles and how cute the high tech weapons are, but we have to think in terms of the human casualties involved in these conflicts.”
The second memorial dates back to a 2002 road trip when I surprisingly spotted a sign for the Peace Abbey as I drove through Sherborn, Massachusetts, while on my way to North Easton to visit the estate of suffragist, inventor, illustrator Blanche Ames Ames. (I particularly wanted to see the huge bell mounted on the house that Blanche Ames rang everyday until women won the right to vote.)
Curious, I stopped and walked into what is now known as America’s Memorial to Pacifism that was created in 1994 by the students and staff of The Life Experience School. The memorial is comprised of a statue of Mahatma Gandhi and a series of about 5-foot high
brick walls. More with 60 plaques with the names and quotations of pacifists are affixed to the brick walls. There were names I expected to find: Jane Addams, Catherine of Siena, Muriel Rukeyser, and a couple I did not expect but was delighted to see, a long ago professor of an economics course I took at the University of Michigan —Kenneth E. Boulding and his wife Elise M. Boulding. I am posting their plaque with their particularly relevant words for guidance and courage to not despair in our disheartening and traumatizing times.(Click to enlarge.)
Photo credits in order: Penny Colman, Penny Colman, Linda Hickson, Bill Smith from collection of Santa Cruz Public Library, Penny Colman