The Persistence of Memory, Part 2

How will we be remembered? The animated films The Book of Life and Coco show different sides of this topic quite well. Both are good movies to see in order to find out more about the traditions of Día de los Muertos, in Mexican culture which is influenced by the indigenous cultures of the Maya, Mixteca and Zapotecas. Madison began a tradition this year of residents making portable creations celebrating their dearly departed. I was fortunate to see the exhibit through the window of the Overture Center this weekend.

Día de los Muertos Madison Photo: Rebecca Cuningham

The curator had arranged the retablos (altar pieces) artfully with contrasting colors and with additional marigold flowers. A large skull rosary reminds us of our own mortality; that we use our years well.

Skull Rosary and Retablos Photo: Rebecca Cuningham

Día de los Muertos paperboard graveyard in our front yard, part 2. For Part 1, click the word here.

Once upon a time there was a women’s professional baseball league in the United States. Joyce Westerman was the catcher for the team for 7 years! Have you seen the movie “A League of their Own,” with Madonna? Westerman has a cameo at the end.

Joyce Westerman tombstone, Womens Baseball Photo: Rebecca Cuningham

We honor a highly decorated officer, Lâm Quang Thi, of the Vietnamese ARVN who supported the US. His son was interviewed in Ken Burn’s film “Vietnam.”

Tombstone Lam Quang Thi, ARVN Photo: Rebecca Cuningham

Hank Aaron is a household name in the United States. When he was about to break Babe Ruth’s home run record, he suffered a lot of bigoted hate mail for it. He said each letter addressed with that hateful word, prompted him to hit another home run. In 1974, Aaron surpassed Babe Ruth’s record. Hank Aaron’s career home runs amounted to 755, to Babe Ruth’s 714. It took until 2007 for another player, Barry Bonds, to surpass him.

Tombstone Hank Aaron, Baseball Great Photo: Rebecca Cuningham

Born in China, Hung Liu moved to the United States as a young person. She became a world renowned painter, using antique photographs of people in China and adding lines, marks and colors to them to convey meaning.

Tombstone for Hung Liu, Modern Painter Photo: Rebecca Cuningham

Aviation was opened to African American pilots in the 1940s. After he graduated from high school, Robert “Bob” Ashby began his cadet training in Tuskegee, Alabama in 1944. Once he had his wings, he was sent to Japan, but two white crews would not fly with him; the Army was still segregated. Ashby flew in the Korean War. He also trained pilots back in the States. He was one of the few Black commercial airline pilots when he joined Frontier Airlines in 1973. Fewer than 3% of airline pilots today are African American.

Tombstone for Robert “Bob” Ashby Photo: Rebecca Cuningham

Aung Chient is one of the most famous modern Burmese poets. He wrote poetry from a young age. His poems defied the Burmese dictatorship when he was a boy. (Burma is now called Myanmar) At 16, they imprisoned him for 15 months. To shepherd his mind and survive, he wrote poems in his head. He’d write them in the dust or trace them on side of the bare mattress to memorize them. Once he was freed, he said that he became a better poet by writing to get around the censors; it was a good challenge. “Poetry is my daily life,” he once said.

Paperboard Gravestone for Aung Chient Photo: Rebecca Cuningham

Miriam DeCosta-Willis came from a very educated family. Both her parents were professors with advanced degrees. That did not shield her from racism at university. In 1957, she was turned down when she applied to pursue her master’s degree at Memphis State University although she was a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Wellesley. Undeterred, DeCosta-Willis studied elsewhere and returned to teach at Memphis State University.

Miriam DeCosta-Willis Photo: Rebecca Cuningham

During years of famine in Ethiopia and the AIDS epidemic, Abebech Gobena gathered orphaned children. She began an orphanage. Currently 150 children are cared for there. Gobena also provided HIV prevention programs. The sum of her humanitarian work has helped around 1.5 million people.

Abebech Gobena Photo: Rebecca Cuningham

How would you like to be remembered?

¡Olé! –Rebecca

Rebecca Cuningham

14 thoughts on “The Persistence of Memory, Part 2

    1. Thanks so much for your comments, Michele! It is something I look forward to making and sharing. My home office faces the street and I just saw a couple walking their dog and reading the gravestones. That makes me smile. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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