Four Monuments With Monumental Mistakes

Don’t etch that in stone
Four Monuments With Monumental Mistakes

It’s hard to imagine the great sculptors of history writing an error-riddled tweet, but nobody goes into the field because they have a strong grasp of language and history. It’s frankly ironic that we entrust the commemoration of our most important people and events to a group not known for its attention to factual detail. It’s no surprise, then, that some monuments go up with hilariously egregious mistakes literally etched in stone.

The Kobe Bean Bryant Memorial Statue

Following basketball superstar Kobe Bryant’s death, a statue was commissioned for display outside the Arena (ugh), home of his team, the L.A. Lakers. It was built to commemorate the 2006 game in which he scored 81 points against the Toronto Raptors, the second highest in NBA history, but the inscribed account contained several errors, including incorrect spellings of other players’ names as well as straight-up incorrect spellings. Unfortunately, there’s no Grammarly for marble etching.

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial

As if dying in a war historically considered pointless wasn’t bad enough, when the Vietnam Veterans Memorial went up in D.C. in 1982, it was discovered that more than 100 of the names of the fallen had been spelled wrong. Eventually, 62 of them were corrected, but not because those other 38 could go fuck themselves — fixing the spelling usually meant moving the name to another part of the memorial, which was organized chronologically by death date, so families had to choose between removing their loved one from their buddies in arms or giving them a weird posthumous nickname. It was a costly mistake, as each name took $4,000 to fix, which feels fitting.

The Wall of Remembrance at the Korean War Veterans Memorial

When the Wall of Remembrance was added to the Korean War Veterans Memorial in D.C. in 2022, it glanced over at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and said, “Hold my beer.” Not only does it contain more than 1,000 misspelled names, some 500 names are missing, and 245 of the names that are there shouldn’t be. We’re all for taking a moment of silence for guys who died drinking antifreeze, but they don’t tend to get parades.

The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial

During the planning of the memorial statue of Martin Luther King Jr. that was unveiled in D.C. in 2011, a “council of historians” selected a list of quotes to be included on an inscription wall as well as a “stone of hope.” It can’t be said, however, that Dr. King was a pithy man, so someone decided to scrunch down some of those quotes. Specifically, one of the quotes selected was, “Yes, if you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice. Say that I was a drum major for peace. I was a drum major for righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter.” It was shortened to, “I was a drum major for justice, peace and righteousness.”

People, including those as revered as Maya Angelou, were so horrified by the mangling of Dr. King’s words that made him “look like an arrogant twit” that they were just chiseled off completely. Though it’s a sentiment Dr. King might not have agreed with, you gotta know when to give up.

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