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On Commemoration

Global Reflections upon Remembering War

Edited By Catherine Gilbert, Kate McLoughlin and Niall Munro

How, in the twenty-first century, can we do commemoration better? In particular, how can commemoration contribute to post-war reconciliation and reconstruction? In this book, a global roster of distinguished writers, artists, musicians, religious leaders, military veterans and scholars debate these questions and ponder the future of commemoration. They include the world-renowned architect Daniel Libeskind, the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Tony Horwitz, the award-winning novelists Aminatta Forna and Rachel Seiffert, and the human rights lawyer and Gifford Baillie Prize-winner Philippe Sands. Polemics and reflections together with poetry and creative prose movingly illuminate a subject that speaks to our common humanity.

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The Paradoxes of Commemoration (Emma Login)


emma login

Emma Login managed the First World War Memorials Programme at Historic England. Here she considers two commemorative programmes that powerfully exhibit the tensions that exist when we decide where and how we should commemorate war and those who have died.

In this piece I want to reflect on two programmes that I’ve been working on recently with respect to commemoration: the first is as a heritage consultant at the National Memorial Arboretum and the other is my current role at Historic England. I think both of these sit at the intersection of national and individual memory and they are both national sites or national programmes. The Arboretum is a site of continuing commemoration: it’s a relatively new space for new memorials, and the First World War Memorials Programme is a conservation programme that looks at how we engage with existing memorials.

The National Memorial Arboretum is a 150-acre site at Alrewas in Staffordshire. It was conceived in 1994 by Commander David Childs CBE who wanted to establish a national focus for remembrance. Planting began in 1997 and the site opened as the UK’s year-round centre for remembrance in 2001. It has over 330 memorials which are predominantly, although not exclusively, military. All of these memorials are funded by campaign groups or individuals which feel that a particular memorial needs to be established. Memorials at the site cover a wide range of conflicts and conflict experiences. However, a common theme that runs through...

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