10 memorial statues you should visit
Memorial statues are not only decorative artworks; they are a way to immortalise people and events. Made of stone or bronze, statues symbolise the eternal nature of memories. Here are 10 of the best memorial statues from around the world.
10. Marine Corps War Memorial
Location: Arlington, Virginia
Marine Corps War Memorial in Arlington, Virginia is one of the most well-known monuments in the United States. The massive statue is realistic and exploding with drama. It is a scene that’s alive and has a cinematic quality. It commemorates the Marines who fought in the Battle of Iwo Jima in World War II. The statue depicts six Marines— Marine Sergeant Michael Strank, Corporal Harlon Block, Private First Class Rene Gagnon, Private First Class Ira Hayes, Private First Class Harold Schultz, and Private First Class Franklin Sousley—planting the American flag on top of Mount Suribachi. It is based on a monochrome photograph, titled “Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima,” by Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal.
9. Korean War Veterans Memorial
Location: Washington, D.C.
Korean War Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. is a haunting reminder that war is an unfortunate aspect of our civilization. The realistic statues represent different branches of the U.S. armed forces and depict troops walking across a garden, each one with unique facial expressions to convey that they are not merely soldiers, but individual human beings with emotions and stories to tell. The statues also represent different races to show that every American ethnic group has sacrificed their lives for the country.
8. Eceabat Tarihe SaygI Aniti (Memorial Sculptures of the Gallipoli Campaign)
Location: Eceabat, Turkey
Photo by Nagy István (Flickr username: nagyistvan8)
This monument in the Gallipoli peninsula of Turkey depicts a realistic battle scene featuring troops in various positions. The memorial even features trenches and sandbags used in battle. History unfolds before your very eyes as you walk through the complex. The expressions on the faces of the statues show the despair, agony, and bravery of soldiers. The memorial is a reminder that war is neither glorious nor romantic, even if the ideals the soldiers fight for might be honorable.
7. Peace Memorial Park
Location: Hiroshima, Japan
Photo courtesy of Tourism Policy Department of the City of Hiroshima
Technically, the name of the statue is the “Monument of the A-bombed Teachers and Students of National Elementary Schools”. It’s located in Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima, near the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. The statue’s aesthetic is simple but conveys the country’s tragic history and the complex nature of war. It is often surrounded by hundreds of multicolored origami cranes to symbolise those who had lost their lives in the infamous bombing, but it’s also a collective petition for peace in the world. A woman, presumably a teacher, cradles a child in her arms as she runs from the destruction. It is a vivid reminder that the victims of war are often the civilians; innocent lives that were caught in the crossfire of men’s struggle for power.
6. Shrine Peace Memorial
Location: Toronto, Canada
The Shrine Peace Memorial is located at Exhibition Place in Toronto and is one of the most elegant statues in the world. The statue depicts an angel holding two olive branches towards the sky, the universal symbol for peace. The shrine is surrounded by a fountain and the water’s whiteness provides a nice contrast against the statue’s dark colour. Behind the statue is a semicircle bench with the words PEACE BE ON YOU and the reply ON YOU BE THE PEACE. The statue was gifted to Canada by the Ancient Arabic Order Nobles of the Mystic Shrine (now known as Shriners International) in 1930 as a symbol of peace between Americans and Canadians.
5. Non-Violence (a.k.a. The Knotted Gun)
Location: New York, NY
The sculpture is located in front of the United Nations headquarters and is associated with the Non-Violence Project Foundation. Unlike the other memorial statues on this list, which features people, the large bronze sculpture features a tool—in this case a Colt .357 magnum revolver—that has caused many people misery. The sculpture is not so much anti-gun specifically as it is anti-violence in general. It is fitting that it stands outside of the UN building because the call for international unity and non-violence is more important now ever.
4. Przejście (a.k.a. The Anonymous Pedestrians)
Location: Wroclaw, Poland
Fitting in with the crowds of the busy intersection, the sculptures known as the Anonymous Pedestrians remind citizens and tourists alike of those who perished under oppression. The artwork was unveiled during the 24th anniversary of martial law in Wroclaw. The artist, Jerzy Kalina, chose to commemorate the men, women and children who were either jailed or harmed during those dark times in history. The sculptures break out from the concrete—poetically representing the underground movement that fought against the regime—and march towards the future.
3. Nelson Mandela Capture Site Statue
Location: Howick, South Africa
Photo courtesy of the South Africa Department of Tourism
Undoubtably one of the icons of the 20th century, Nelson Mandela led the crusade, along with Archbishop Desmond Tutu, against apartheid in South Africa. At the site where he was captured is a stunning installation by South African artist Marco Cianfanelli. The 3-D portrait was unveiled at the 50th anniversary of Mandela’s arrest. From the sides, the jagged metallic rods resemble charred fragments, reminding visitors of the country’s past struggles. However, history becomes clearer when you view it from the front, and Mandela’s profile looks towards the nation’s future progress with determination.
2. People of the River
Location: Singapore River, Singapore
Photo courtesy of the Singapore Public Art Trust-National Arts Council
So far on this list, we’ve seen war memorials honoring our heroes and peace monuments honoring the civilians who lost their lives. This sculpture—one of four installations—along the Singapore River honors the lives of regular folks who made Singapore the economic powerhouse that is has become. Singapore is a vibrant and progressive city with an ever-growing economy and a fairly stable political climate. However, such progress didn’t come easily. It took decades of sacrifices, hard work, and collective discipline from the citizens of Singapore to make it the nation it is today. The bronze sculptures by artist Chong Fah Cheong is a reminder of the simpler times in Singapore and is a marker of how far it has come since “the first generation.”
1. Mihai Eminescu Portrait
Location: Onesti, Romania
Photo by Tara Dacilor
Mihai Eminescu is the national poet of Romania, so it is fitting that he receives a poetic sculpture in his honor. In the town of Onesti is a pareidolia-esque sculpture featuring his portrait. The sculpture features two bare trees with their protruding branches creating the poet’s profile against the sky. It is arguably one of the world’s most creative memorial sculptures. Mihai, who died in 1889, is so influential in Romania that there are numerous institutions named after him and he is featured in banknotes. The sculpture reminds passers-by that you don’t need to wield a sword to get a hero’s monument—a pen will do just fine.