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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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Oklahoma City: Reframing Tragedy as Triumph

Oklahoma City: Reframing Tragedy as Triumph

(p.59) { 3 } Oklahoma City: Reframing Tragedy as Triumph
Memorials to Shattered Myths

Harriet F. Senie

Oxford University Press

This chapter links the central element of the Oklahoma City memorial, 168 sculptures evoking empty chairs symbolic of the absent dead, to earlier Holocaust sculptures in Berlin, which would certainly have been familiar to the project architects, Hans and Torrey Butzer, who were based in the German city at the time of the competition. The public responded to the chairs as grave markers, leaving gifts on and around them on important personal occasions as well as on anniversaries of the attack. Exhibitions in the Oklahoma City museum constitute various forms of re-enactment embedded in a narrative that ends in hope. One in particular is a room in which an audio recording of routine government transactions of that morning plays, interrupted by sudden darkness and sounds of the explosion. The evolution of the bombing and its aftermath, from devastation to celebrations of spiritual and economic renewal, is echoed in significant anniversary ceremonies.

Keywords:   Berlin Holocaust memorials, Hans Butzer, Oklahoma City Memorial, Oklahoma City Museum, Torrey Butzer

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