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The Work of Mourning of 9/11 in U. S. A

Oh, Bonghee 1

1경남대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

The Work of Mourning of 9/11 in U. S. Abonghee OHThis paper explores the work of mourning of 9/11 in the United States, focusingon the project of building the National September 11 Memorial managed by theLower Manhattan Development Corporation(LMDC) and the War on Terrordeclared by the George W. Bush administration in the wake of 9/11. This paper first looks at the project of building the Natioanl September 11Memorial and considers what was at stake in achieving this project. It also examinesthe limitations of the project. This paper argues that, in spite of the efforts tomourn the victims in significant and meaningful ways, the work of mourningin the memorial project fails at least in two respects. First, the memorial project“began so soon” right after 9/11 that the victims’ families were not given enoughtime to mourn their loved ones. Second, the project were permeated with Americannationalism and patriotism, which made the 316 non-American victims of 9/11invisible and forgotten. Then, it goes on to examine the War on Terror becausethe War on Terror epitomized the failure of mourning due to these causes. Inhis address to the nation delivered on the very day of 9/11, President GeorgeW. Bush stated that “America was targeted for the attack because we’re the brightestbeacon for freedom and opportunity in the world” and that the terrorists failedto threaten America into chaos. He also stated that America is in “the war againstterrorism.” These statements were a futile reassertion of the illusion of Americaninvulnerability and a prohibition of mourning in favor of violent military responsesto 9/11. American nationalism also underlies Bush’s official naming of September11 as “Patriot Day.” The victims were sacrificed because they were at the sitewhen terrorists attacked, which implies that their death had nothing to do withAmerican patriotism. Naming September 11 as Patriot Day was an act of imbuingthe absurdity of the victims’ death with a false meaning and an act of forgettingthe non-American victims. The failure of the work of mourning of 9/11 consisted in the inability to recognizehuman vulnerability and interdependence and the inability to mourn not onlyAmerican victims but also non-American victims killed in 9/11 and the War onTerror. A meaningful and significant mourning could be possible when we realizesthat all human beings are exposed to one another and their lives are interdependenton one another. September Eleventh Families for Peaceful Tomorrows welldemonstrated this kind of mourning. When most Americans supported violentretaliations, Peaceful Tomorrows made pleas for nonviolent responses to 9/11. Turning their grief into action for peace, its members work “to create a saferand more peaceful world for everyone,” not only for Americans. Their effortto mourn in meaningful and nonviolent ways delivers the message that a disasterlike 9/11 should not happen anywhere.

Citation status

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