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Strange Memorials

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Memorials come in all forms, and many of them can be quite strange. In fact, one blogger on the Internet even argues that most public memorials are strange. Calling for more dignity and honor in our modern memorial structures, John Chuckman says, “Clumps of statues - including figures carefully representing every identifiable marketing segment of the voter population, always excepting Memorials can range from traditional to downright strangegays and Arabs - are springing up like toadstools after a period of warm rain. And, of course, there has to be an ‘information center.’ Dignity is gradually giving way to the ambiance of a Niagara Falls gift shop.”

Following up on Chuckman’s point, are several observers in England who point to the many unusual memorials that have been established in that country for those who died in the nation’s wars. An entire island, for example, has been established as a War Memorial in Barrow-in-Furness, England. And in another city, a row of simple country cottages is considered a war memorial. One Internet commentator in Australia notes much the same phenomena there. Many airports, golf courses, and other unorthodoxies public 'tribute' places are established as war memorials in that country, too. “War memorials were once tax deductible,” he says as a somewhat cynical explanation of this trend. All of the writers seem to agree that a good memorial should be a private affair which captures the spirit of the deceased – however, a lot of strange memorials fit that description, too.

On Rodney Street in Liverpool, England, for example, is a unique memorial to a wild gambler known as, simple, McKenzie. That man had asked to be buried sitting up at a card table, holding a winning hand of cards. So he is, today, eternally memorialized in a small pyramid that supposedly houses his upright body (presumably with the requested cards) that is the central focus of a local cemetery.

There are countless ways to create a befitting tribute to suite a personalityLikewise, an Indian religious leader tells a tale of many small settlements in that country whose graveyards house tombstones that say “He lived 5 years” or “She survived 2 years.” A visitor could be forgiven for wondering why so many children seem to die in those Indian villages, but the residents would simply smile at such an inquiry. It seems that the deeply religious communities consider time “lived” to be only that time spent in prayer with God. So, at the end of a life, family and friends simply estimate the amount of overall time a person spent in prayer, (this is usually done by consulting prayer books in which each person records his or her prayer time throughout his life) and that time is included in the memorial.

While these unique tributes are much more personal, and thus would probably not raise the critic’s ire as the generic memorials first mention in this article do, they are, nonetheless strange memorials. In today’s modern world, a typical memorial consists of a bronze or granite grave marker that lies flat on the ground and has little more than a person’s name, the dates he or she lived, and a few words and pictures that family and friends believe sums up his life. Anything else is, for better or for worse, a strange memorial.

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