Victims’ families have become a class of privileged participants in the memorial process. Family members who are mourning are typically not able to take the long view required in commissioning public memorials; they are better charged with determining intermediate memorials. This book argues that by focusing on the absent bodies and invoking their presence, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and its education center, the Oklahoma City Memorial and the Oklahoma City Museum, the Columbine Memorial, and the September 11 Memorial and the September 11 Museum basically camouflage history. Seen as an aggregate, they define a nation of victims, exactly the concept they and their accompanying celebratory narratives were apparently created to obscure. They incorporate strategies of diversion that direct our attention away from actual events, a form of denial that reframes tragedy as either secular or religious triumph.
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