In August 2017, thousands of torch-bearing white nationalists descended on Charlottesville, Virginia to protest the planned removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. This intensified a national reckoning with the hundreds of Confederate statues that dot cities from Jacksonville to Helena, Montana, leaving a stockpile of removed Confederate statues with nowhere to go and Americans with questions about what to do with them. Should these monuments be destroyed, or relocated to museums or cemeteries?
Enter the Memory-go-round, a monumental carousel that confronts Civil War revisionism by building on a different sort of American nostalgia.
Civil War statues have uncertain futures and militant pasts, which must be remembered but no longer celebrated. To train them for peace, the Memory-go-round enlists these soldiers and their steeds to gallop side by side with their former enemies—to be, simply, American. Just as carousels evolved from military exercises to entertainment devices ringing in the new American century to the tune of carnival music, so too will Civil War monuments become monuments to more noble American ideals of this century—monuments to the devalorization of war, monuments toward playfulness and peace.