From the files of Bob Malkas: Meaning of the memorial

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Local Voices

Bob Malkas

Early in 2020 I produced a brochure explaining the background behind the Lansing Veterans Memorial and how it became a part of the Village of Lansing. I dare to say that few Lansingites have visited the site, let alone understand the meaning and messages it leaves for posterity.

At the center of the Lansing Veterans Memorial is a black granite wall which tells a story of U.S. history and identifies the qualities of American unity and determination. The focal point of the wartime story is a soldier standing over a fallen comrade. A female caregiver is administering to him. The standing figure has an outstretched hand and a facial expression that is intriguing and invites the observer to explain for himself what he is trying to say.

Memorial
A black granite wall tells the story of U.S. history. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)

When the Lansing Municipal Airport provided public tours of the airport, they always ended at the Lansing Veterans Memorial and invited discussion of what the soldier is trying to tell the country. It was a great teaching tool.

Memorial
Visitors of the Lansing Veterans Memorial have often discussed what the soldier is trying to tell the country. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)

In the background are illusionary soldiers from American history, which starts with the American Revolution and proceeds with figures from the Civil War, World War I, World War II, the Korean conflict, and the war in Vietnam. It should be noted that all races, ethnicities, genders, and branches of the armed services are depicted, signifying American unity and the assimilation of all American people when they want to achieve common goals.

An aura of patriotism is in the air. The historical figures depicted in the left corner are the spirits from American history and seem to be welcoming a new comrade to their ranks.

The wall includes a dedication to explain why area-wide Veterans committed to the project. The message is: FOR THOSE WHO FOUGHT FOR IT, FREEDOM HAS A FLAVOR THE PROTECTED WILL NEVER KNOW

The side panels of the wall identify area residents of record who took part in past military conflicts. Lansing school districts should find a way let their teachers visit the memorial and tell this story, and encourage their comments. That would be teaching that would have positive results.

The students would then be allowed to make their own opinions on American history, instead of what they are being told to believe by counter-culture movements. It wouldn’t hurt for all of Lansing who question the American culture today to also learn what the Lansing Veterans Memorial is trying to teach.

There a two six-foot black granite panels adjacent to the wall and are worth your time to scan. They identify the scope of support that was being generated by the Memorial Project in a happier day.

Bob Malkas


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