With the attack in Boston fresh in mind, this photo had me really confused. It shows runners before the start of a marathon in Oklahoma City a week ago pausing to remember the victims of a terrorist bombing. That would be Boston, right? In fact, no, it was for the bombing there in 1995. Even if the remembrance was local, however, it must have either been inspired by the attack on the Boston Marathon. Not so. The race, formally named the “Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon,” is now in its fourteenth year. (I imagine the parallels were not lost on the editors of news photo galleries, however.)
I don’t believe the number and type of attacks and disasters in the U.S. have been accelerating in the last decade as much as the ritual of memorializing has become more intentional. With loss and memory becoming so formalized now, it seems like each catastrophe or attack necessarily becomes branded — to cities, to specific locales, and also to symbols or events they most logically refer to. That’s what confused me at first looking at this photo. It was my assumption that disaster and marathons, from here on in, map in the public consciousness to Boston.
(photo: Nate Billings/The Oklahoman – AP. caption: Runners and race officials pause for 168 seconds of silence to honor those killed in the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building before the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon, Sunday, April 28, 2013, in Oklahoma City.)