In regular walks around town one notices a lot of monuments, monuments to anthropomorphised ideas, historical events, religious icons, military persona, cultural heroes, and architectural aesthetics. All of these have a certain artistic merit – whether carved stones, molded metals, or concrete constructs – they honor not only the people and ideas depicted, but the artists who have created them. Some are focal points of the city, some simply appear in gardens when you don’t expect them. Some represent concepts that are eternal, many simply honor the lives of particular individuals.
A thought that occurs to me as I’m walking around town and come across a bust or statue commemorating an individual is: Who are you? What were you?
Some I have learned about. Jose Celestino Mutis, the namesake of Veronica’s school, was a Renaissance man, mostly a botanist, and impressive in his accomplishments; Jose Marti I know from Cuba; La Perla de Cadiz is famous for Flamenco; Fernando Quinones was a local writer; and many are religious figures in the Catholic tradition. Some I don’t know. I don’t recognize their names and have yet to look them up. (The dancing man has no captions, no epitaph, no interpretation or explanation.) In all cases, except for anthropomorphised ideas, they were people who had lives, and in the words of Julia Andrews and Christopher Plummer, “must have done something good.”
But like every tombstone in every cemetery, they are just monuments to a life now gone. There may be a discussion about those who knew of their fame and memorialized themselves. There may be a discussion about those who didn’t, or those who created the memorials, or those who worship them. There may be a discussion about all those for whom there is no monument, no memorial, no memory that once upon a time they walked the earth, talked with their friends, and remembered those who had come before.
So here is a little slideshow of some of the monuments in Cadiz, in honor of those honored, all who are honorable, and the rest of us who simply stand and wait…