Plaques for Everyone: How the Internet Democratizes Legacy Commemoration

When I’m walking down the street and I see a stranger with an interesting hair colour, I want to know what their life is like. When I’m writing at a coffee shop and I see someone else typing a few tables over, I want to know what they’re writing about.  I can’t quite figure out if this is a newly invigorated zest for life or if I’ve just become morbidly curious.  Either way, I find people watching (and eavesdropping) infinitely inspiring for my creative work.

Similarly, when I visit new cities, I’m drawn to the historical plaques that mark people or times gone by. I can’t walk past one without reading it. 

What I’ve noticed though about the vast majority of these plaques is that they mainly commemorate dead, white men with money. What about everyone else? Aren’t their stories worthy of plaques too?

The great thing about the internet is that it democratizes legacy commemoration. On a site like Lamp in Hand we can commemorate the stories not told anywhere else. You can call me a bleeding heart, but in my opinion, I think all people’s stories are worthy of plaques. 

In the #LiveWithPassion section of Lamp in Hand, we will now be sharing more stories of “everyday people.” This month, I had the amazing opportunity to interview a local centenarian, Doris Rittinger. 

When I met with Doris, we chatted for hours and she told me the story of her life. Although storytelling is a big part of our everyday lives — most of us spend mealtimes sharing stories with friends and family — it’s important to dedicate time to sharing the larger narratives that we write each day just by living.

You can check out the piece I wrote on Doris here. Also, just for fun, here’s one of Doris’s stories in her own words: