The Politics of Mourning with author Micki McElya
Content is pleased to welcome scholar and author Micky McElya for a talk and discussion of her book, The Politics of Mourning: Death and Honor in Arlington National Cemetery on January 22nd at 7 pm.
Arlington National Cemetery holds a distinctive place in American culture and self-conception. An active cemetery that averages thirty interments every weekday, it receives four million visitors each year who come to pay their respects to those who have sacrificed their lives to defend and protect the nation through war and peace. It is a sacred shrine in the popular imagination, hallowed ground that stands not only for those buried within but also for the ideals for which they died and which continue to require honor and respect from all American citizens. As perhaps the most critical site of collective mourning and remembrance in the country, Arlington has become an icon of American patriotism and national identity. Yet despite its central place in the nation's commemoration of its past heroes, few have ventured into the actual history of the place to show how it has evolved from its initial establishment during the Civil War to its current status. Micki McElya delves deeply into the historical past to get beyond the popular narratives and guides to this favorite tourist destination that is so heavily invested with national honor and reverence. In doing so, she gives us the first full history of the cemetery as a physical place that has been shaped and transformed by the political and cultural aims and circumstances of succeeding generations.
"An insightful and affecting investigation of how Americans see themselves, and how they memorialize their soldiers, that will be of interest to historians and, particularly, veterans." -- Edwin Burgess, Library Journal (starred review)
"The Politics of Mourning is an elegantly written and fascinating study of the history of Arlington National Cemetery. McElya delves deeply into the complex story of Arlington's evolution from antebellum plantation to hallowed ground and explores how this complicated past continues to shape its current status as 'Our Nation's Most Sacred Shrine.'" --Suzanne E. Smith, George Mason University