marines veterans day 2022

Many members of the public don’t have a clear understanding of what service means to people in the military. How do they honor their own? What kind of spaces and activities help them reflect and remember – beyond Veterans Day and Memorial Day?

We are cultural geographers who study how people’s emotions and connections with the past are represented physically in landscapes. Recently, our research has focused on commemorative place names in the military – particularly names associated with the Confederacy, which the U.S. armed forces are now reviewing and renaming.

In 2021, one of us (Katrina Finkelstein) visited Camp Pendleton in California to research commemoration on Marine Corps bases and understand how active-duty Marines and veterans interact with those spaces. In addition to official memorials and monuments sanctioned by the military, there are more informal and intimate examples of commemoration.

These ongoing, “living” memorials can be especially meaningful for service members processing their experiences and remembering those they lost, and physically represent the emotional weight they carry every day.

A Living Memorial

Katrina FinkelsteinCrosses in honor of fallen Marines stand atop a hill near Camp Pendleton, California.

Camp Pendleton, one of the U.S. Marines’ busiest bases, sits between San Diego and Los Angeles on miles of undeveloped coastline.

Thirteen hundred feet above the base, more than 30 crosses stand on a hillside – a memorial site established in 2003. Before deployment to Iraq, a group of seven service members – two Marine officers, two enlisted Marines, two Navy corpsmen and one Navy chaplain – carried a cross made of an old telephone pole up to the site. It was an effort to remember a peer they lost and to prepare for the mission ahead of them. Three of the seven were later killed in action.

Today, the hilltop is still used for physical training and events before and after deployments. Meanwhile, its informal commemorations have expanded and changed, as many active-duty military and veterans develop a relationship with the space.

Destroyed in a fire in 2007, the original cross was replaced, and dozens of others added. Some are more intentionally constructed, engraved and carried up the steep hillside, while others might have been made from sticks on the way.

Contributing to the memorials has become an ongoing tradition. In August 2021, for example, after 13 service members were killed in a blast at Kabul airport – including nine Marines and …read more

Source:: Heavy.com

      

How Crosses & Mementos Help Some Marines Remember Fallen Comrades

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