Remembering the struggles and successes of American history remains an integral part of the culture in Washington, D.C., as the Mall holds memorials of the presidents and wars whose legacies shall never be forgotten.
As we walked on the Mall, we discussed the controversy that surrounded the war memorials, reflecting on the neoclassic style of the WWII memorial, as well as the post-modernism of the Vietnam War and the Korean War memorial. Each of these memorials remains an artistic and intellectual representation of wars that have brought both tragedy and peace, or disgrace and honor to this nation. To remember the people who gave their lives for the ideals of democracy and freedom, these memorials offer a place of expression and commemoration.
In my own reflection, it struck me that someday there will be a memorial for the War in Iraq, whether it is classified as the “War on Terror” or the war against “Islamic Fundamentalism.” As Barack Obama assumes the presidency, it will be interesting to see how the Iraq War images of his administration compare to those of the Bush Administration, and how the public will remember and understand this war in American history. What makes the Iraq War unique is its relationship with the terrorist attacks of 9/11, as it was created as a war to protect the safety of American citizens against radical terrorists and evolved into a war of questionable truths and ethics.
I believe a memorial should be established for the people of my generation to reflect upon what the Iraq War has meant to American history and how it has both united and divided this nation’s people. Because this war remains so controversial, it will be many years before a memorial exists; however, in order for people to draw their own conclusions to this period in history, I believe an artistic representation of the Iraq War is essential.
The future of the Iraq War remains uncertain, although Obama has developed a plan for the removal of American troops in Iraq. Classified as a “war based on lies,” “the greatest mistake of the Bush administration,” a necessary war toward defeating the “axis of evil,” the future has yet to tell what this war will truly mean for the American people.
However, through my observation of the existing war memorials on the Mall, a memorial for this war will be a necessary step toward reconciling its meaning and place in history.