Mom and I were talking about tributes not too long ago. See, Will Eisner died a few months back and as a tribute to his work DC Comics made a crossover between "Batman" and Eisner creation "The Spirit".
Mom was making the arguement that we do these tributes after they die because on some level we all believe in the afterlife and want them to know what a great person the deceased was. That didn't feel right to me. And now that I'm doing this mindless data entry stuff my mind gets to dwell on that sort of stuff and figure out what it didn't feel right.
Several recent entries have had to do with my mind trying to keep functioning under the abuse of data entry.
I'm going to say that we do tributes to keep the important people alive a bit longer. Batman creator Bob Kane died in 1998 and hadn't worked in comics since the 1960's. But he's effectively immortal as long as Batman goes on. As long as people keep reading "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" Douglas Adams remains.
"The Spirit" had been out of print for years and largely forgotten. But Eisner's death brought it back for that crossover and, I'm told, they're bringing him back in his own regular comic. And the annual comic book awards are called Eisners. Until recently Will was even there to hand them out in person. Eisner will live on for decades.
We do tributes to keep a part of the people alive. It's not so much to honor them as it is our own inability to let go. And maybe a bit of recognition that the only immortality we're sure of is the contribution of our work on society.