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Posts Tagged ‘Effigy Mounds National Monument’

The Monument by Gary Paulsen

As I was writing about the Effigy Mounds National Monument, I remembered a young adult book I read some years ago. Do you know Gary Paulsen? He is a prolific author, mostly of children’s books, has participated in the Iditarod, writing both adult and children’s books about it, and has led a rather interesting life. His books often revolve around nature and how nature helps us grow and mature.

Paulsen’s book, The Monument, is about a small town in the midwest, sometime after the Vietnam war, whose residents want to build a monument to all the fallen war heroes that have lived there. They hire an artist to design the monument.

The artist starts drawing sketches of the people in the town as he talks to them, gets to know them, and attains a feel for what the town is like. Many of them, as I recall, are not comfortable with what he draws, seeing things in their character that they would rather not see.

A young girl, recently adopted, with a disability, befriends the artist. As he works, she starts to gain confidence in herself, becomes less self-conscious of her disfigurement, and grows in her own artistic abilities.

It is a short book, moving and interesting about art, especially for young readers, with a dog and assorted town characters, and it has a message about how we choose to honor people. It has been a long while since I read The Monument. I don’t remember the characters’ names and details, but, what I do remember is the monument that is finally erected. A grove of trees, thirty or  so, one for each veteran who has died in the service of the country through the span of many years and wars.

The beauty of such a living memorial touched me when I read the book, and it has stayed with me for many years. It played with my thoughts as I wrote yesterday’s post and thought about the ancient mounds we viewed. Burial sites that had been there for a millennium and I thought of how all cultures and religions and people have in their time and place erected such monuments, not just to fallen war heroes, but, to their own people as well.

It is funny, isn’t it, how one thought leads to another and how our travels, whether in books, by car, or by plane, give us broadened understandings of this magnificent planet, our earth?  Our earth. A monument that should be honored and respected. Ah, a short road trip and a children’s book; I never know where my thoughts will lead me.

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It sounded like raindrops. Looking up from our steep path, it was leaves, dripping from the very tops of the maples and hickories and walnuts. Slowly at first, then gaining speed, they cascaded into one another as we watched them from our perched path.

More than 200 mounds are located in this national monument.

It is quiet as is fitting for a sacred place

It is breathtakingly beautiful.

The path we took was steep and strenuous in parts with many switch backs. It was worth every step.

Come with me for a spell, won’t you?

Be sure to click on the next picture to find the fisherman in the boat. You may need to click a second time.

We did not take pictures of the mounds. They are sacred and we honor that. The mounds are believed to have been built more than a thousand years ago in much of the eastern and midwestern United States. Some mounds are conical and are believed to hold human remains. Other mounds are in the shape of bears and birds. This is the largest grouping of effigies in the States. It was dedicated as a national monument by President Harry Truman in 1949.

Monuments are not always statues and stones.

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