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Q&A

Q. & A.

Q. How did you get interested in peace monuments?
A. I guess I've always been interested in history & travel. But I just happened to be in France when I learned about a huge peace monument constructed in 1919-1938 at the river mouth where LaFayette departed in 1777 to join the American Revolution & General Pershing arrived in 1917 to help France during World War I ("Monument à la gloire des Américains") -- & DESTROYED by the German army in 1942. So I organized a ceremony to celebrate the simultaneous 210th anniversary of LaFayette's departure & 70th anniversary of Pershing's arrival. (Pershing famously declared "LaFayette, nous sommes arrivés.") /// Several years later, I moved to Tennessee just in time for MoveOn.org's "Global Vigil for Peace" at the International Friendship Bell (aka peace bell) in Oak Ridge on the eve of the War in Iraq. I wondered how a Japanese bell had become a "lasting legacy" of the city which enriched the uranium which bombed Hiroshima. Everything else shown on this website has fallen into place since then.

Q. Have you organized any ceremonies since you left France?
A. Only one. On August 9, 2005, an Oak Ridge minister & I led a ceremony at the International Friendship Bell for the completion of 60 years of the non-use of nuclear weapons. The ceremony was attended by senior Manhattan Project scientist Alvin Weinberg, and I read from his writings about the "Sanctification of Hiroshima."

Q. What exactly is a peace monument?
A. A "monument" is always physical & permanent. Most monuments are funded & constructed by a committee of some sort (often with controversy & compromise). Any monument therefore represents a message which its creators wanted to leave for future generations. Other so-called monuments were not originally constructed to be monuments but acquired historic or symbolic importance & became "unintentional monuments." Every monument bears a message from the past & should careful interpreted to determine its creators' original intentions & its subsequent history. "Original intentions" are not always apparent since the traditional vocabulary of a monument is stone, bronze, bricks, mortar, abbreviated inscriptions & symbols. Monuments have fixed locations, so the public has, until recently, had to make personal visits in order to see them & to discern their meanings, but modern technology (e.g. this website) can now compare monuments side-by-side and bring them to the attention of everyone in the world. I anticipate that technology will soon influence monument design & use. In 1973-1993, a Bateau de la Paix (physical & permanent so therefore a monument) in the Mediterranean broadcast pro-Palestinian messages into Israel ("La Voix de la Paix"). Alas, the ship no longer exists -- but is commemorated by the Voice of Peace Memorial on Gordon Beach in Tel Aviv. More recently, some monuments in Yellow Springs, Ohio, have been given QR (data matrix) codes so visitors can find & read about them on their smart phones & tablet computers.

Q. How did you start the systematic study of peace monuments?
A. I started by studying the International Friendship Bell in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Then I learned that other "nuclear" cities also have "peace monuments." Then I started looking for "peace monuments" everywhere. I got a big boost from Prof. James Richard (Dick) Bennett at the University of Arkansas. His "Centers, Museums, and Public Memorials for Nonviolent Peacemaking in the US: A Visitors' Guide" (PeaceWork Magazine, American Friends Service Committee, Philadelphia, May 1999, unfortunately no longer on-line) & "Peace Movement Directory: North American Organizations, Programs, Museums and Memorials" (McFarland & Co., Jefferson, North Carolina, 2001, pp. 310) are invaluable. Dick laboriously acquired his information by mailing post cards to every county in the USA & Canada, whereas I had the advantage of using a computer & the Internet. In November 2005, he invited me to talk at the OMNI Center for Peace, Justice & Ecology in Fayetteville, Arkansas, and a student newspaper journalist (Cole Brokenfield, now Deputy Director for Policy at the Project on Middle East Democracy in Washington, DC) very accurately reported my remarks.

Q. How did you start this website?
A. In 2008, Prof. Peter van den Dungen invited me to talk to the Sixth International Conference of the International Network of Museums for Peace (INMP) at the Kyoto Museum for World Peace (part of Ritsumeikan University) in Kyoto (Japan), and I decided that it was time to make my information about peace monuments available to the public. I already had a domain name ("maripo" = Spanish for "butterfly" - sa) & web host (Host Gator). So I added a sub-domain ("peace") & started this website for peace monuments. Previously, a scientist at the Goddard Space Flight Center showed me how to learn HTML coding from a website of the University of Illinois.

Q. How much travel does this website represent?
A. Since starting this website, I have visited peace monuments in 15 countries (Argentina, Austria, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, India, Israel, Japan, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, Palestine, Switzerland & the USA). But some of these countries are very large, and it's not possible to visit all peace monuments & persons of interest. Most of the information on this website was acquired by searching the Internet. Some of it was contributed by "Friends of Peace Monuments." Now I would like somebody (or a group) other than myself to travel worldwide & make a quality series of peace monument photographs.

Q. What adventures have you had while traveling to visit peace monuments?
A. In January 2007, my wife & I accompanied a group led by Arun Gandhi to visit peacemaker Vandana Shiva on her farm near Dehra Dun (India). After meeting with Dr. Shiva, we taxied into the Himalayan foothills to find a stainless steel Cuniform word for "Peace" which Jim Havens had made in Gibsonburg, Ohio, to mark the end of the war between Iran & Iraq. /// In October 2008, we temporarily conquered the complicated Japanese address system to find Tomijiro Yoshida at his high-rise apartment in the Tokyo suburb of Ikebukuro, and he graciously helped me complete my on-line directory of World Peace Bells which he had installed in 20 countries. /// In 2008 & 2010, we met the directors of bell foundries in Kyoto (Japan), Takaoka (Japan), and Innsbruck (Austria). /// I saw my first stolpersteins (thanks to Mark R. Hatlie) on Hiroshima Day (August 6, 2010) in Tübingen (Germany) just after speaking to a local peace group about peace monuments in Hiroshima. /// In 2011, I visited the secretariat of the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem (Israel) to talk to someone about Holocaust monuments around the world & was told I'd have to go home & inquire by email, but -- after doing so -- I received a curt reply saying that "we are [not] at liberty to share [information] with outside parties." /// In Palestine, I spotted several peace monuments from a moving bus; one was just outside the modern shopping mall in the Israeli "settlement" (i.e. large town) of Ma'ale Adumim; another (which I have not been able to identify) was just south of the city of Janin. /// In August 2012, I asked a Canadian border guard opposite Trout River, New York, if I could enter no-man's land to see the 1937 Kiwanis peace marker, and he said, "Sure, walk on out there." So I did, but three US guards rushed out with hands on their pistols to neutralize the threat I posed; I didn't linger in New York to address their concern but hastily retreated back into the sanctuary of Québec. (From my brief glance & two photos, I learned that the 75year old Kiwanis marker is as good as new, but I doubt if many other passers-by ever get an opportunity to see it up close.) /// I've also risked my life to photograph statues of Mahatma Gandhi & B.R. Amdedkar surrounded by suicidal traffic in Ahmedabad & Mumbai (India).

Q. Does this website use any special software to keep track of the many peace monuments, peacemakers & other facts it displays?
A. No. The only software used to keep track of the monuments & peacemakers & to construct this website is a very simple word processor, i.e. Microsoft Notepad. I long to acquire (& learn how to use) a sophisticated program which could automatically construct monument descriptions from an integrated database.

Q. Are you the only person to work on this website?
A. Pretty much. I would very much like to find one or more persons who would help out & learn to maintain the site as I become unable to do so. As you might expect, I feel that the site is valuable & should be maintained & up-dated permanently. See "Invitation" at the end of the next web page.

Q. Why is it important to promote the knowledge of peace monuments?
A. Peace monuments are under appreciated for two reasons: (1) An overwhelming public acquaintance with war monuments & (2) the fact that "peace" represents so many different meanings. Peace monuments teach history & non-violence. If adults know how to find peace monuments, they can use them to help counteract the many examples of war and violence which permiate the environment of our children & youth. Peace monuments are also used as the venues of non-violent ceremonies & demonstrations. I think that tourists could learn valuable "peace stories" by visiting multiple peace monuments & that this website is, in effect, the "first draft" of a worldwide guide showing how tourists (as well as local residents) can find peace monuments.

Q. What are some of the meanings of "peace?"
A. Justice, reconciliation, civil rights, non-violence, the absense of war, conscientious objection. Peace monuments also memorialize negative phenomena which should be minimized or prevented from "ever happening again," e.g. slavery, genocide, apartheid, the use of weapons of mass destruction, & violence in any of its many forms.

Q. Do you select & describe peace monuments to express your personal political views?
A. No. I try to be politically neutral. I include any monument named for "peace." The most interesting example is the 1940 Heiwadai Koen (Peace Tower) in Miyazaki (Japan) which served to show occupied countries the benefits of the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere. I realize, however, that the components of social justice which I (and many others) consider part of "peace" are not universally accepted, and many peace monuments have been vandalized, presumably by those who disagree.

Q. Are any other websites similar to yours?
A. No. Some cities maintain on-line directories of outdoor sculpure. Here and there (e.g. Atlanta, Geneva, London, The Hague), brochures are published to help people find local peace monuments. These are usually strung out along imaginary "peace trails."

Q. What is your favorite peace monument?
A. It's in Nashville, right here in my home state of Tennessee. Nashville citizens wanted a monument to commemorate the Civil War Battle of Nashville which took place in 1864 but didn't get around to erecting one until 1927 (63 years after the battle). By then, World War I had taken place, so the monument was made to commemorate the peace following both wars. The monument (but not its original base) was moved in 1999 to make way for a new expressway; so it now has duplicate bases a mile or so apart. Designed by Italian Giuseppe Moretti [1857-1935] -- most famous for sculpting Vulcan in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1904 -- the Nashville monument depicts a muscular youth (the united nation) reigning in two powerful horses (North & South) under a rainbow & angel of peace. The duplicate bases have three inscriptions: Text #1: "The spirit of youth holds in check the contending forces that struggled here in the fierce Battle of Nashville, December 16th, 1864, sealing forever the bond of union by the blood of our heroic dead of the World War 1917-1918." Text #2 from Ralph Waldo Emerson [1803-1882]: "A monument like this, standing on such memories, having no reference to utilities, becomes a sentiment, a poet, a prophet, an orator, to every passerby." Text #3 is a poem by state librarian John Trotwood Moore [1858-1929].

Q. Why does your website have sections for monuments related to the US Civil War & to World Wars I & II? Aren't war monuments separate from peace monuments?
A. War monuments glorify winning armies, celebrate victory over a vanquished foe, commemorate valor & sacrifice, promote nationalism or mourn the loss of life. The wars you asked about also inspired a few peace monuments which celebrate the "peace" which follows war, display the human tragegy of war or draw the lesson that war should never happen again.

Q. Have peace monuments led you to work on other topics?
A. Yes. Many peace monuments memorialize famous individuals, so I created an on-line index of "Notable Peacemakers" in birth order. I have also made on-line lists of historic Peace Treaties & Peace Conferences. When I was asked to write a chapter in the "International Handbook on 'Tourism & Peace'" for the UN World Tourism Organization (WTO), I used the concept of Peace Stories, but I have not yet created a web page to expand on this idea.

Q. Can you name anyone else who has worked to promote peace monuments?
A. Yes. I am inspired by Chicago geographer Arizona (Zonia) Baber [1862-1955] whose thin book "Peace Symbols" was published by Jane Addam's Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) in 1937. I borrowed the book from the Illinois State Library. It contains photos & descriptions of 40 peace monuments. Alas, I can find no further information about six of them, including a 1936 painting of Jeannette Rankin & 56 other Members of the US Congress who voted against entering World War I in 1917.

Q. Oh, one last question: This website claims to show 3,300 peace monuments by nation but only 2,000 by year. Shouldn't the numbers be the same?
A. Yes, I think they should be, and I was surprized when my count of monuments by year (date) fell significantly short of monuments by nation (location). But there are at least three explanations. (2) Probably the bigest explanation is the lack of data which invariably causes an undercount of monuments by year. If you know anything at all about a given monument, you probably know where WHERE it is. But it's sometimes very hard to tell WHEN a given monument was dedicated (or designed or financed or constructed) even when you're standing in front of it. And a LOT of descriptions (as published in guide books or on the internet) fail to report such attributes accurately. I have recorded a lot of dates as "c.19xx" or "About 19xx" or "Date?" Some but not all of these have been included on the geographic pages. (2) The second explanation (I hope of lesser significance) is lack of dilligence. This website is maintained manually, and a lot of monuments have been entered on the geographic pages but, alas, simply not -- as they should have been -- on the appropriate chronological (and thematic) pages. Discrepancies of this kind could be lessened by working longer & harder on balancing the various webpages, but sometimes, I confess, it just doesn't seem to be worth the time & effort (so this remains an opportunity for a volunteer to help improve this website!). (3) Lastly, is the problem of what I call "monuments within monuments." There are both large & small examples, but let me cite only one. The Peace Palace in The Hague is a peace monument to be sure, and its date of dedication (1913) is unquestioned. But within the the Peace Palace (& its immediate surroundings) are many other monuments -- statues, portraits, mosaics, a garden, a huge Russian vase, a decorative gate, fountains, a peace pole, etc. I have tried to show these on-line with other statues, portaits, peace gardens, etc., but it's not easy. Detailed descriptions & dates of dedication -- even a complete inventory of all such monuments -- are rarely available, and the result is that it's impossible to classify all of the lesser monuments. /// PS: I am offering $10 cash to anyone who can tell me WHEN the fabulous "eleven figures" monument in New Delhi depicting Gandhi's famous "Salt March" in 1930 was actually dedicated. I walked all around this large monument when I was in New Delhi, searched many guidebooks & surfed the web but never could find its date. Hint: Its famed sculptor Devi Prasad Roy Choudhary died in 1975.

ABOUT US
Q&A
3,300 PEACE
MONUMENTS
BY NATION

2,000 PEACE
MONUMENTS
BY YEAR

MANY PEACE
MONUMENTS
BY THEME

1,500
NOTABLE
PEACEMAKERS

CONTACT
BACK TO TOP
OF MAIN PAGE

Please email your comments & questions to geovisual @ comcast.net. Thank you.

Return to Peace Monuments main page.