Daily Jim pic 32

Crazy Horse memroial in  progress, South Dakota, by James L. Kramer
There are not a lot of reasons to visit South Dakota, and the previous Daily Jim pic was about a third of them. This will eventually be another, but it’s been in progress for a long time now (since 1948) so, you know, maybe not for next summer…

This is the Crazy Horse memorial, intended to depict one of the most influential Native American leaders, most known for defeating Custer at Little Bighorn. Part of the reason that it’s been taking so long is that it’s a private, non-profit foundation that’s driving the project, not a government initiative, and so there are no fund allocations or major promotional campaigns. Nevertheless, as can be seen by the equipment in the shot, it’s moving along.

It helps to know what it’s intended to look like:

scale statue of proposed Crazy Horse memorial sculpture, by James L. Kramer
Once completed, it should be pretty impressive, but unless a major funding breakthrough comes along, I’m not going to see it. I also have mixed feelings about memorials of this kind. Like yesterday’s example, there’s a certain level of recognition and reverence that such things foster, which is fine: “Gosh, people were impressed enough to do this big project, the person(s) depicted must have been pretty badass!” But it says nothing whatsoever of who they were, or why they received this attention, and so on. For that, we need dedicated education efforts – which can be undertaken without any sculpture at all. What percentage of people visiting Mt Rushmore cannot even name all four of the presidents depicted, much less tell us their major accomplishments?

I’m not one for hero worship; I know that everyone has their good and bad points, and it’s not the person so much as their particular accomplishments that deserve the attention. Right now there’s a bit of push, mostly on college campuses (imagine that,) to take down statues and/or rename various memorial halls featuring Thomas Jefferson, because he owned slaves. I think that knowing he owned slaves is a valid concern – and so are the countless efforts he made to establish our system of government and its underlying values, which have lasted longer than the majority of governments across the planet. That’s the man. But the good things are what we should be highlighting, regardless. They don’t weigh against one another – we have no reason to pass judgment on the person themself.

Anyway, enough soapboxing.