Girl’s Suicide Points to Rise in Apps Used by Cyberbullies – NYTimes.com.
The latest in the increasingly common trend toward creating “spontaneous memorials” at sites of trauma or tragedy, an example of the “memorial mania” that historian Erika Doss writes about (and which we’ll be reading about in class in a few weeks). Teddy bears, candles, balloons, flowers hanging on fences: these memorials have become a consistent feature on the US tragic landscape.
The 50th anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy is coming up in November– on November 22nd, of course: a date that any of us who are of “a certain age” can never NOT associate with that event. This article from the New York Times provides a bit of a preview of the coming deluge of “products of memory” about Kennedy and Dallas and the assassination and the (maybe) conspiracy, and on and on. Movies, books, TV documentaries, new exhibits, a revamped “Sixth Floor Museum” in Dallas.
“It’s amazing that Kennedy should have this extraordinary hold on the public’s imagination 50 years after,” said Robert Dallek, a historian, whose book “Camelot’s Court: Inside the Kennedy White House” is being released in October. “He’s the one president along with Reagan who gave people hope. It’s hope, it’s optimism, it’s the feeling that he could have made this a different world.”
I’m not sure that I agree that JFK’s “hold on the public imagination” is all that “amazing,” or that all of this attention in 2013 is evidence of that “hold.” The attention comes, in large part, I believe, to the acceleration and intensity of public memory, the “memorial mania” that historian Erika Doss has recently written about. The centennial of the Civil War received far less attention in the 1960s than the sesquicentennial is having in the present. The 50th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic took place in 1962, and made barely a ripple compared to its centennial just last year. For a whole book-full of reasons, memory is big business these days– and far more contentious than ever before.
This also has to do with Baby Boomers (of which I am one)– not only the immensity of their cohort, but the immensity of their self-regard. If something momentous happened to US, it MUST be important, and MUST be remembered intensely. For millions of boomers, the Kennedy assassination was the first and perhaps most blinding “flashbulb memory,” an event that took up permanent residence (and resonance) in our psyches. We all remember “where we were” about noon on November 22, 1963.