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. . . There was a time when there was an
almost universal language in the memorial industry concerning the meaning
of different objects. But now because of untrained people joining the
field the language is lost. So people are creating their own language
of symbols partially because we [monument salespeople] have failed to
give them the key to the symbolism [of the images] that exist. That is,
the tractor is not a tractor as much as a means to summon up the feelings
of the farm and of seeing her husband coming in after all day on the planter.
And each person's imagery is their own. The flowers now are more than
likely what she grew in her garden or liked as a bouquet [rather than
having religious significance]. I suspect that people think using writing
is not getting their money's worth. So they want something like guitar,
windmill, and truck rather than the phrase musician, rancher, and trucker.
As far as intent, I will say that most people actually do state that this monument is for us and it doesn't matter what other people think of it . . . [T]hey can have their own private language; if it makes sense to them then that is as far as the meaning needs to go. Speaking to the generations to come [with religious epitaphs, for example], let alone the general public is not really considered by most people.
--Lou Ann (11/10/2000)
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