How to Encourage Good Behavior at Memorials and Historic Sites

“Visitors are invited to touch the memorial names panels.”

I recently visited the National September 11 Memorial and Museum in New York City and although I didn’t know anyone who died that day, I was incredibly moved by the experience, even feeling uncomfortable taking photos. But I did because I’m always trying to understand how to interpret various events and topics, especially those that are difficult or sensitive.

I was also surprised that there was a need to explain to visitors how to behave at the memorial, the huge open fountains that mark the location of the Twin Towers and record the names of those who were murdered. Some explain what you can do, others what you shouldn’t, and some explain what’s happening. These might inspire you to think about language that might be appropriate around memorials and historic sites in your community.

2 thoughts on “How to Encourage Good Behavior at Memorials and Historic Sites

  1. Michelle Zupan

    This is indicative of the “ME” culture we now inhabit. Bad behavior seems required for attendance at anything — be it a restaurant or the site of 2000 deaths.
    We had to close our headquarters site — two historic houses with 6 acres and 3 ponds — to weekend visitors when we’re closed because of the sheer disrespect shown by people. We had a bride in her gown IN one of the ponds for a photo op, people moving our porch furniture into the grass for photos, people fishing in the ponds, confetti everywhere, wrote on the buildings with chalk (and left it), NAILED wreaths to the 1840s cottage windows (in July), and one of my favorites — people DIGGING UP our garden plants. Don’t even get me started on the maternity photo shoots when I had to kick people off the property for public nudity (with 2nd graders arriving for a field trip).
    It’s enough to make you lose faith in humanity.


    1. Max van Balgooy Post author

      Wow. I can’t even fathom how I’d react to encountering naked people posing for a photoshoot on my site (I supervised a photoshoot for a beefcake calendar once, but I had no problems because they kept most of their clothes on and we were getting paid).


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