As Monuments to War Generals Come Down, Let’s Replace Them with Monuments to Peace

The monuments to Confederate generals and to those who fought to maintain slavery are coming down. That’s a good thing and long overdue. It cannot stop there, however, as we move not only to eradicate their symbolism, but the very real systemic racism they represent, and which sadly persists in this country.

But should some of these statues be replaced? And if so, with what?

Our parks and squares are filled with monuments to wars. Yet while these memorials reinforce the notion that war efforts are highly valued and rewarded by our society, and honor those who sacrificed for their cause, it is a profoundly lopsided representation of American values.

These include standing for peace, justice, and civil and human rights, all of which are under-represented in our public spaces. Washington DC’s Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, a relatively recent addition, is one of the few representatives of this side of the equation at the national level.

Why not, therefore, replace at least some of the statues memorializing war with tributes to Americans who have courageously opposed war and racial injustice and promoted peaceful alternatives to violence and aggression?

We could start in our nation’s capital by building a US Peace Memorial, a national monument to peace and an idea first proposed in 2005 by the US Peace Memorial Foundation. Such a memorial would recognize peace leadership and display antiwar statements from hundreds of famous Americans from all walks of life — views that history has often ignored.

The US Peace Memorial would send a clear message to our citizens that advocating for peaceful solutions to international problems, and opposing war, are honorable and socially acceptable activities in our democracy.

By extension, we should also consider honoring those whose acts of heroism have saved rather than destroyed lives. For example, many of our courageous healthcare workers have taken enormous personal risks and even given their lives as they tended to the sick during the COVID-19 pandemic. Recent months have served up countless heroes whose selfless acts should be as worthy of statues and monuments as are warriors. Theirs is also a cause for peace.

More than a half-century ago, President John F. Kennedy wrote, “War will exist until that distant day when the conscientious objector enjoys the same reputation and prestige that a warrior does today”.

Building the US Peace Memorial in our nation’s capital, and similar monuments to peacemakers in other cities, would be a good beginning.

Michael D. Knox, PhD is the founder and chair of the US Peace Memorial Foundation and Distinguished University Professor Emeritus, University of South Florida

Linda Pentz Gunter is the co-founder of Beyond Nuclear and writes for and edits the blog, Beyond Nuclear International.

Note: Reference for Kennedy quote: John F. Kennedy, “Letter to a Navy friend.” A Thousand Days: John F. Kennedy in the White House. Schlesinger, Arthur M. (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1965), 88. Print.


Weekend Edition
August 14, 2020
Friday - Sunday
Matthew Hoh
Lights! Camera! Kill! Hollywood, the Pentagon and Imperial Ambitions.
Joseph Grosso
Bloody Chicken: Inside the American Poultry Industry During the Time of COVID
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: It Had to be You
Pete Dolack
Business as Usual Equals Many Extra Deaths from Global Warming
Paul Street
Whispers in the Asylum (Seven Days in August)
Richard Falk – Daniel Falcone
Predatory Capitalism and the Nuclear Threat in the Age of Trump
Paul Fitzgerald - Elizabeth Gould
‘Magical Thinking’ has Always Guided the US Role in Afghanistan
Ramzy Baroud
The Politics of War: What is Israel’s Endgame in Lebanon and Syria?
Ron Jacobs
It’s a Sick Country
Eve Ottenberg
Trump’s Plan: Gut Social Security, Bankrupt the States
Richard C. Gross
Trump’s Fake News
Jonathan Cook
How the Guardian Betrayed Not Only Corbyn But the Last Vestiges of British Democracy
Joseph Natoli
What Trump and the Republican Party Teach Us
Robert Fisk
Can Lebanon be Saved?
Brian Cloughley
Will Biden be Less Belligerent Than Trump?
Kenn Orphan
We Do Not Live in the World of Before
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Compromise & the Status Quo
Andrew Bacevich
Biden Wins, Then What?
Thomas Klikauer – Nadine Campbell
The Criminology of Global Warming
Michael Welton
Toppled Monuments and the Struggle For Symbolic Space
Prabir Purkayastha
Why 5G is the First Stage of a Tech War Between the U.S. and China
Daniel Beaumont
The Reign of Error
Adrian Treves – John Laundré
Science Does Not Support the Claims About Grizzly Hunting, Lethal Removal
David Rosen
A Moment of Social Crisis: Recalling the 1970s
Maximilian Werner
Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf: Textual Manipulations in Anti-wolf Rhetoric
Pritha Chandra
Online Education and the Struggle over Disposable Time
Robert Koehler
Learning from the Hibakushas
Seth Sandronsky
Teaching in a Pandemic: an Interview With Mercedes K. Schneider
Dean Baker
Financing Drug Development: What the Pandemic Has Taught Us
Greta Anderson
Blaming Mexican Wolves for Livestock Kills
Dean Baker
Rental Inflation Appears to be Slowing, Especially in High-Priced Cities
Evaggelos Vallianatos
The Meaning of the Battle of Salamis
Mel Gurtov
The World Bank’s Poverty Illusion
Paul Gilk
The Great Question
Rev. Susan K. Williams Smith
Trump Doesn’t Want Law and Order
Martin Cherniack
Neo-conservatism: The Seductive Lure of Lying About History
James Haught
White Christian Bigotry
Nicky Reid
Pick a Cold War, Any Cold War!
George Wuerthner
Zombie Legislation: the Latest Misguided Wildfire Bill
Lee Camp
The Execution of Elephants and Americans
Christopher Brauchli
I Read the News Today, Oh Boy…
Tony McKenna
The Truth About Prince Philip
Louis Proyect
MarxMail 2.0
Sidney Miralao
Get Military Recruiters Out of Our High Schools
Jon Hochschartner
Okra of Time