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'Art of Commemoration' is a must-read for both historians and art lovers

Art of Commemoration Cover

Art of Commemoration Cover

One of the treasures of the Vicksburg National Military Park is the stunning art of the park’s monuments, markers and statues.

And, there is a great book, offered free of charge, that gives the history and significance of the park’s art and architecture.

“Art of Commemoration” was written by Parker Hills, a 30-plus year military man who retired as a brigadier general with the Mississippi Army National Guard.

Hills, who currently owns and operates the leadership-/team-building company Battle Focus in Clinton, where he uses Civil War battlefields as a “classroom,” wrote in the introduction: “The thing signified at Vicksburg — the spirit of the park — is the valor of the soldiers and sailors who struggled as participants in the Vicksburg campaign. The memorials and markers, through their information, art and architecture, signify, or honor, these combatants. The bronze, stone, and iron works were created to help preserver the spirit of duty, honor and country, and hopefully this spirit will be experienced by the viewer.”

The 93-page, glossy, full-color “Art of Commemoration” begins with the park’s iconic entrance, the Vicksburg Memorial Arch, giving a full account of both its architecture and engineering, and continues through the park, offering history and details of numerous memorials and statues.

The book is so in depth it provides a needed glossary for those of us who are not architects and engineers, as well as space to take notes. Ever heard of a peristyle, entasis or cella? No worries — they’re covered and explained in “Art of Commemoration.”

If all of that wasn’t good enough, it’s also free, thanks to a grant that covered the book’s costs.

To obtain a copy, visit the Vicksburg Convention & Visitors Bureau, which is located just across the street from the main entrance into Vicksburg National Military Park. Ask for “Art of Commemoration.” You’ll be asked to sign a log, but I was in and out in less than five minutes.

We need to relish these objects of art and history, because while they have been standing for decades and seem invincible, they are not. A disturbing note on page one states: “While in the park you may notice that many of the monuments have suffered damage, either deliberately or by accident. If you have children, please do not allow them to climb on to the statues, as they are priceless works of art.”

So, pick up “Art of Commemoration,” tour the park and revel in the history and beauty that is ours.

About Wally Northway

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