Archive for the ‘Graveless memorials’ Category

In St. Patrick’s Park in Dublin, Ireland, there is a long brick wall with what is called the Literary Parade. The wall has a series of niches, each of which houses a plaque of a famous Irish author.

Literary Parade

Beckett (2)

Beckett (1)



Dillon (2)









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Ashley at St. Bridget's Well

Ireland has three patron saints: Patrick, Columba, and Brigid (or Bridget). During my 2009 trip to Ireland, our tour guide took us on a brief detour to visit St. Bridget’s Well. Alongside a country road in front of a small cemetery, there is a little concrete, sod-covered cave leading to the well. Those who come to pray at the well leave items behind, creating a colorful, 3D collage.



Rosaries draped over statuettes at St. Bridget's Well

St. Bridget's Well

St. Bridget's Well

Rosaries, flowers and statue at St. Bridget's Well


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1100 Tombstone of Shaikh al-Husain ibn Abdallah ibn al-Hasan Iran Seljuk (2)

The tombstone of Shaikh al-Husain ibn Abdallah ibn al-Hasan is in the Cleveland Museum of Art. Carved from limestone, it dates to 1110. The carvings include not only the name of the deceased and his death date, but verses from the Qur’an.

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Orestes Sarcophagus, ad 100 125, Greek marble, Roman, Italy (1)

This 2nd century Roman sarcophagus is in the Cleveland Museum of Art.

Orestes Sarcophagus, ad 100 125, Greek marble, Roman, Italy (4)

Orestes Sarcophagus, ad 100 125, Greek marble, Roman, Italy (2)

Orestes Sarcophagus, ad 100 125, Greek marble, Roman, Italy (3)

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Mourner from the Tomb of Philip the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, about 1406-1410, alabaster, Claus de Werve, Netherlandish (1)

In further evidence that I can find funerary monuments anywhere, I took a number of photos of mourner statues at the Cleveland Museum of Art. This statue is from the tomb of Philip the Bold, the Duke of Burgundy. The statue is about 600 years old, dating to the first decade of the 15th century. And those of you who know my other passion for prayer beads, he’s also holding a set of prayer beads.

Mourner from the Tomb of Philip the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, about 1406-1410, alabaster, Claus de Werve, Netherlandish (2)

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Peace Light

The Eternal Peace Light Memorial overlooks the scene of the early fighting of the Battle of Gettysburg, atop Oak Hill. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt dedicated the monument in 1938 as part of the final Blue and Gray reunion on the 75th anniversary of the battle. In attendance were approximately 1,800 remaining veterans of the Union and Confederate armies, the youngest of whom was 88 years old. Built on northern and southern donations, the memorial is topped with an eternal flame. You can hear Roosevelt’s remarks and view photos from the event here.

It’s also the subject of one of the earliest photos I ever took with my own camera that was worth keeping.

1989 Gettysburg Field Trip

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Nearly everything in Trinity Church had a memorial plaque or inscription on it. Unsurprisingly, the baptismal font is dedicated to a little girl who died young. I wonder what it felt like for the parents of Mary Rochester to watch babies be baptized in the font with their daughter’s name on it.



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GAR section (10)

This probably isn’t the first time I’ve seen one of these, it’s probably just the first time I’ve gotten up close and personal enough to recognize what it is. It’s a flag retirement repository. According to Woodland Cemetery’s website, anyone who has a United States or Ohio state flag that is no longer in good enough condition to be flown can bring the flag to the cemetery office during normal business hours. The flags are stored until Flag Day (June 14) and then burned as part of a formal retirement ceremony. The repository is located adjacent to the G.A.R. section of the cemetery.

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About a month ago, I wrote here about the most viewed cemetery-related photos on my Flickrstream. Not surprisingly, they were all for gravestones of famous people or people related to famous events: two related to the Salem Witch Trials of 1692, the tomb of Robert E. Lee, the ledger stone for Helen Pitts Douglass, and the statue that marks the grave of Stonewall Jackson.

The next most popular photo on my Flickr stream that I’m going to include here isn’t technically a gravestone, but it is a memorial, and I love it so much I am going to give it its own post. It’s the marker that purports to mark the location where Confederate Brigadier General Lewis Armistead fell wounded at the Battle of Gettysburg while leading his troops in Pickett’s charge. It greatly resembles a grave marker in its design. I have had a soft spot in my heart for Armistead ever since I became familar with his story (interpreted and dramatized in the book The Killer Angels and movie Gettysburg).

In many ways, Armistead has been a figure who has been used to show how the Civil War was fought by men who knew each other intimately. At the eve of the Civil War, Armistead was already a figure that could star in any tragedy: he did not finish his education at West Point, fire destroyed his family home in Virginia, he developed a rare skin disorder, and he buried two wives and two children. He was particularly close to fellow army officer Winfield Scott Hancock and his wife Almira Hancock. He entrusted Hancock’s wife with items to be forwarded to his family in the event of his death. Like many other army officers born and raised in the Confederate states, Armistead decided he could not fight against his home state and resigned his army commission to take a command in the Confederate armies. In The Killer Angels, author Shaara uses Armistead to voice the conflicting emotions that many Civil War officers must have felt a they fought against those they had once served beside. Armistead lead his brigade in Pickett’s Charge on the 3rd day of the Battle of Gettysburg, making his way to the Union lines before being wounded. According to those who moved him from the field, he asked after his friend Hancock and wanted to send a message to him. Armistead in fact was buried on the property of the nearby Spangler farm where he died two days later. He was later re-interred at St. Paul’s Cemetery in Baltimore.

Brigadier General Lewis A. Armistead C.S.A. Fell Here July 3, 1863.

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When I was trying to decide what to write about for Martin Luther King, Jr., Day, I begin to think about some of the amazing people that I have chanced to meet. I respect the work of Dr. King and other nationally known figures, but I wanted to write about something more personal.

There are no photos that I have taken for this post, and I met this man just once, very briefly. I want to tell you a little about Dr. Donald Spencer. I met Dr. Spencer at his home about 6 years and shook his hand because I had traveled there to interview his wife, Dr. Marian Spencer, for my master’s project in women’s studies. I feel like I knew him slightly better than I did because her description of her social justice activities and life was so deeply interwoven with her partnership with her husband.

The Spencers were (and I am sure she still is) advocates for civil rights in Cincinnati for their adult lives. They met at the University of Cincinnati, where he had helped create a student organization (Quadres) to allow African-American students to participate more fully in student life. Donald Spencer was a member of the NAACP, the first African-American trustee of Ohio University, a teacher, and one of the first African-American real estate agents in the area. He and his wife were both prominent leaders in the city.  He also supported fully his wife Marian in her efforts – her lawsuit to desegregate Cincinnati’s Coney Island in 1952 and her career in city politics. They both worked for desegregation of local institutions and voting rights. Dr. Donald Spencer died May 4, 2010, at the age of 95.

I cannot do justice to the life of Dr. Donald Spencer, so I will provide you with some links: here is an interview with Dr. Spencer from 2005. The Cincinnati Enquirer published lengthy profiles of him after his death. Here is a report on the tribute given for him.

I have not been to any memorial for Dr. Spencer. I am not certain where he is buried, if he is buried. But I offer these words as flowers for him.

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