Posts Tagged ‘laurel’


Otis Monument

As I’ve written before, wreaths, particularly laurel wreaths, often symbolize victory over death in the form of eternal life. There is probably nowhere else in Cleveland with as many artistic renderings of laurel wreaths as the grande dame of the forest city’s cemeteries, Lake View.



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New York state monument

This monument to the soldiers of New York state at the Battle of Gettysburg stands inside the National Cemetery, making it an interesting combination of cenotaph (as not everyone being honored is buried nearby) and mass funerary monument (since some of those men most undoubtedly were killed at Gettysburg and lie within site of the monument). The symbol at the very top is also a melding of multiple meanings.

New York state monument (2)

Towering high above the slight hills of the cemetery and nearly alone on this section of landscape (save the Solder’s National Monument), a woman clothed in classical garb holds out a laurel wreath as if to crown the brow of an invisible New York soldier before her. Laurel wreaths outside of the cemetery have long been a sign of victory, and so seem a fitting tribute to those New York soldiers who helped bring this important victory to the Union. In the cemetery, laurel wreaths signify not victory at war or competition, but of the soul over death, as well as immortality. This monument braids together multiple meanings by its placement inside another place of dual purposes: a cemetery that was once a battlefield.

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Last week, I showed statues from Spring Grove Cemetery holding laurel wreaths, a symbol of eternity and the victory of eternal life over earthly death. This statue looks as if she is about to drop the laurel wreath from her hands in her grief, but the symbol of hope remains clasped in her hand.


The Miller statue is holding a wreath in its damaged arm.


One of my favorite statues holding a laurel wreath is on the Otis monument at Lake View.

Otis Monument

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Those who study the “classical” world of Greece and Rome probably have an association with wreaths, particularly wreaths of laurel wreaths. They were used to crown the victors of contests. So what is a wreath doing in the cemetery, like this one in the monument to president James Garfield?


Probably still conveying the idea of victory, but now as the triumph of the soul over death and a symbol of immortality. Laurel, in particular, is used as a symbol because laurel leaves do not wilt or fade. This wreath is carved in the Peck monument as if it was laid there.

Wreath on Peck monument

These wreaths adorn all the headstones in the Mather plot.


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