Sentiment and religious faith motivate the erection of monuments, yet these basic components of "The Memorial Ideal" too often remain unexpressed. Much of our monumental decoration is without meaning, having neither personal association with the commemorated nor religious or sentimental appeal to the bereaved.
Monumental ornamentation should be symbolical. It is only by imbuing stone with sentiment that we create a significant monument.
True, in a sense, every monument is a symbol of sentiment and often by form alone - such as a Cross - the symbolical objective is attained. But basically we must look to significant ornamentation, either by symbolism or epitaph,to achieve our end.
The symbolical decoration of a monument or a marker may be a sacred or secular symbol, it may a fraternal, civic, social, professional or military emblem; it may be a pictorial delineation of the church in which the commemorated worshipped, or some graphic record of an event or career; it may be a coat-of-arms, a college seal or fraternity emblem; it may be a State or National flower associated with the commemorated; it may be a sculptured representation of a sacred subject; - there is no limit to the source of ideas and suggestions for personalizing a memorial with symbolical decoration.
Symbolic ornamentation is the product of centuries, with countless interpretations and adaptation conceived by different artists from various sources.
Credit: American Monument Association, Inc., Memorial Symbolism, Epitaphs and Design Types