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Memorials to Shattered MythsVietnam to 9/11$
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Harriet F. Senie

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780190248390

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190248390.001.0001

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Immediate Memorials: Mourning in Protest

Immediate Memorials: Mourning in Protest

(p.40) { 2 } Immediate Memorials: Mourning in Protest
Memorials to Shattered Myths

Harriet F. Senie

Oxford University Press

The cemetery rituals that are commonplace at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial have become a familiar, widespread response to sudden death, whether the result of an automobile accident, drive-by shooting, or act of terrorism. This chapter defines immediacy as the most salient and essential characteristic of this mourning ritual. The current variety of references to these clusters as altars or spontaneous memorials that are somehow makeshift reflects their unsettled meaning. Manifested in roadside memorials and widely publicized outpourings to the sudden deaths of celebrities, immediate memorials can be contextualized within the history of American cemeteries. They briefly transform public space into a site of mourning and implicit protest against a range of perceived social ills. Their elements are then stored in national and local archives, transforming them into sanctified relics, thereby amplifying the valorization of victims that is the focus of the permanent built memorials.

Keywords:   immediate memorials, mourning rituals, spontaneous memorials

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