Monuments and Cockades: What's the Point?

I make monuments. Well, sort of. My monuments are made from ribbon, not metal. And they’re small works of art, not large works of art.

Also, they aren’t permanent. But then, the large metal ones aren’t permanent either, as we’re finding out.

One of the dictionary definitions of “monument” defines it as something erected in memory of a person or event. America is full of monuments. Statues of generals, presidents and scientists. Buildings and obelisks commemorating battles or people. Even a grave marker is a small monument – and so is a cockade. They are all reminders, mementos “erected in memory of a person or event.”

Recently, some folks have decided that certain monuments are no longer welcome in our country. Protests are being raised about these monuments and in some cases, the monuments have already been removed. Does this matter? Is it worth fighting to keep them? What is the point of having them anyway?

We Forget

People are forgetful. We all need calendars, alarms, reminders, sticky notes, and secretaries to keep us from forgetting important tasks and dates. So in order to help ourselves remember really important things, we set aside special times and ceremonies for them.

Mother’s Day and Father’s Day remind us to slow down and thank our parents for all they have done for us. Christmas and Easter remind us to stop and think about what Jesus did for us in His ministry on earth. Memorial Day reminds us to think about the soldiers who have given their lives in our country’s service. These things are all good because otherwise we get busy and forget.

Sometimes remembering is hard. It hurts or is embarrassing. We may not want to remember. But remembering what has happened helps us change the future. A people that refuses to learn (or even know) their history will continue to repeat mistakes.

We Remember

A monument is a constant, concrete reminder of something important in the life of our country. Erecting a monument took effort, organization, money and agreement among people that something was important enough to be memorialized with a permanent public record.

A monument reminds us to retell a story from the past.

If we don’t understand why a monument exists, it is a challenge to study that person or event to find out why it was considered monument-worthy. It’s not a reason to simply get rid of the monument.

When God parted the Jordan River for the nation of Israel to cross, He told them to take some stones from the middle of the river and make a monument out of them. In Joshua 4, He said, “In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.” Every time people saw the stone monument, they were reminded of the miraculous Jordan River crossing.

We Tell Stories

People today are questioning the meaning of America’s monuments. We need to be ready to tell their stories and remind people of our history. A nation that knows its history is a nation that can chart a great future, avoiding past mistakes and building on past triumphs. 

I may be biased, but I happen to think that a great way to start those conversations is with a small “monument” – a cockade!

I have cockades for both Union and Confederate heroes, and I'm happy to do custom cockades for any other events or people you want to memorialize. I hope you "wear your colors" this Memorial Day - and every day - to remember the heroes who built our country!

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