Soldiers' Monument Essay Contest

An essay contest was held by the Historical Society of Watertown in 2013 as part of an outreach project aimed at involving Watertown High School in the rededication ceremony for the newly-restored Civil War Soldiers' Monument.  The winning essay was written by senior Ashley Smith.


First Place

Soldiers' Monument Essay
by Ashley Smith (Grade 12)

If you ever were to go on a trip to another country the first thing you usually do is visit the historical monuments.  You go to see the beautifully made sculptures and buildings and are left with the question, why?  What is so important about these statues and ancient houses that attract tourists all over the world?

Many will argue that seeing monuments give us a connection to the past, as if it was something our ancestors have left us for a reminder of their existence and their experiences.  Most monuments have a story behind them, such as 'The Soldiers" monument right in our own town.  'The Soldiers" monument was a statue built to remember and honor those who served and died during the Civil War.  When you go to visit it, it is a time for mourning and respect for those who helped us live today.  Without those that we are dedicating this to, who knows where we would be at this point of time?  Upon visiting you are instantly grieving at the loss of a group of amazing people who made our lives better today.

As humans we are easily distracted with our daily stresses, work, our kids, our families, meetings and appointments that we almost forget about our forefathers and those from the past who gave us the opportunity to even experience such emotions.  While visiting these landmarks we pause our lives for a second and cherish our history.  It makes us realize that these were actual people and although we don't see them or ever got to meet them, they existed and they are important to our lives now.

We go to see museums of ancient artifacts for our own interests of what happened back then.  We compare our lives today to those who lived years ago as it can either illustrate improvement or failure in our communities that we live in right now.  The same goes for monuments, depending on the monuments and what they are symbolizing, we reflect on ourselves and see how different these times are in a matter of just a few decades or centuries.  We ask the question:  how are we going to leave our mark on this world when we are no longer here?  How will the future generations view us? Would they have the same respect for us as we do of those in our past?

Monuments are also just interesting to look at.  Imagine that that actual statue was built a certain time ago and how people alive back then actually worked on it and basically left us a little treasure to remember them by.  It's wonderful to think about and plus all the handiwork and carvings are all so beautiful and it just makes you step back and really admire it.  It's the feeling you get when you find out you're standing in a place that somebody noteworthy once had stood, it's the awe and amazement that makes it such a fun experience.

It also shows our achievements in the past and it broadcasts what our city or our country is all about.  It gives tourists and outsiders a glance into why we are here and why where we live is great and how we contributed to the world around us.  It is like a trophy that we show off to others.

Monuments and landmarks are really important to who we are today and next time you visit one, take a moment and reflect on our history that our ancestors graciously left behind for us.

Our thanks go out to everyone who helped to make this restoration happen, and to Jon Spector, who had the vision and saw it through to completion, to help preserve this piece of Watertown’s history for future generations.


Soldiers' Monument essay contest winner Ashley Smith