It used to be, as the New York Times has nostalgically pointed out, that our monuments came in three easy-to-choose styles. There was Egyptian obelisk (the Washington Monument), traditional classic (the Jefferson Memorial), and standard equestrian (St. Gaudens’s William Tecumseh Sherman). But in the age of postmodernism, the old monuments won’t do. They seem dated, if not trite.
The problem is that there is no consensus on what to substitute for the monument design we have relied on for most of our history. Even Maya Lin’s brilliantly successful Vietnam Memorial, with its descending black granite wall, hasn’t escaped criticism. Despite its broad acceptance by Vietnam veterans and their families, critics have forced her stark memorial to share space with a flagpole and statues of infantrymen and female nurses....
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