Dr Jeremy Foster
Although World War One is largely forgotten in the US, historical events have brought the conflict back into public consciousness in unexpected ways. This paper explores the complex entanglement of narratives and histories mobilized by the ceremony marking the centenary of the War’s end, which took place in Washington DC’s ‘National Cathedral’, an edifice associated with President Woodrow Wilson, who oversaw the US ‘s embrace of its role as an international power, and the establishment of the League of Nations. Intended to remember the US’ ‘role..in preserving peace and liberty around the world for the last 100 years’, the November 11 ceremony occurred against the backdrop of dramatic shifts in discourses of citizenship and nationhood as well as international relations triggered by the current US administration’s aggressively a-historical policies.
The project unpacks the temporal and affective registers drawn by the convergence of locale, spatial atmosphere, architectural iconography, religio-national rituals, and diverse array of participants in the ceremony. It also reflects on the forgotten imaginary and historical geographies re-awakened by the Bells of Peace program, which had citizens toll bells in places of worship, schools, town halls, and cemeteries the same day, and temporarily and performatively linked the ceremony to locations across the nation and the globe.