While on vacation or genealogy trips this summer, don't forget to keep your eyes open for public memorials, monuments, and plaques. Many small towns have honor rolls of local war heroes or signs commemorating historical events. Sometimes these memorials are located in a public square or park, often they are found at churches or cemeteries. Even if your ancestor is not named on the monument, the event listed might have happened during their lifetime, leading you to a greater understanding of their lives.
I was visiting a church in Toronto this past Sunday, St. Paul's Basilica, and saw a pieta near the front entrance. The statue is dedicated to the Irish immigrants who died of fever in 1847 and were buried near the present day church. In my travels, I often find memorials to our Irish ancestors who suffered so much while trying to survive, both here and in Ireland.
So don't pass by those memorials without reading them!