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Charlotte Heath-Kelly receives funding from The British Academy (2012-14) and the Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellows Scheme (2015-18). Tucked into the south-east corner of Hyde Park in London, 52 stainless steel pillars have stood since July 7, 2009. Compared to the gaping wounds that tear into the earth at Ground Zero, in the form of Michael Arad’s Reflecting Absence design, the British might consider their memorial reaction to the London bombings as understated.
We might contemplate London’s memorial in the context of British historical familiarity with political violence and a steadfast determination to just get on with it, with little fuss. We might think the memorial represents a continuity of historical approach when dealing with bombings, while also remaining respectfully apolitical in its simple, victim-oriented design. Before the War on Terror, Britain did not build memorials to the victims of terrorist attacks.
More recently, the enormous Manchester bomb of 1996 (which destroyed the commercial centre of the city) was commemorated with a plaque on a postbox that survived the explosion. Similarly the first attack on the World Trade Center received a modest memorial in the form of a fountain placed between the twin towers on the plaza. It was the Oklahoma bombing of the Alfred P Murrah Federal Building in 1995 that opened the era of mega-memorial culture. In Oklahoma, an enormous $29m memorial plaza and museum were built on the site of the attack, in which 168 people died. Yet there is no great divergence between the number of people killed in Oklahoma and on Pan Am 103, so why the divergence in memorial response? The change in the way tragedies of this kind are commemorated started with Oklahoma but became standard during the War on Terror. It was at this point, unsurprisingly, that terrorist attacks attained new hyperbolic significance.
The transatlantic relationship between Britain and the US has meant that the UK does not just follow America to war – it also shares in the constitution of post-Cold War Western identity. Bad guys kill civilians and we are not bad guys – so memorials serve to mourn those innocent dead while also performing our civilised identity (as compared with the figure of the terrorist).
This is again being seen in the British government’s response to the terrorist attacks in Tunisia.


Despite all this, there is no space for one victim of July 2005 in the official memorial landscape of London.
The De Menezes family have organised a tribute to Jean Charles at Stockwell but there cannot be an official memorial to the innocent 53rd victim, it seems.
The Weimar Constitution is officially signed and comes into force, making Germany a democratic parliamentary Republic.
Piece together the puzzle of the Northern Ireland conflict by clicking the related subjects above. Four months after the Good Friday Agreement a car bomb ripped through the town of Omagh killing 29 people.
The bombing was carried out by dissident republicans calling themselves the "Real IRA", led by a former Provisional IRA quartermaster-general.
But many also sought to find hope in the wreckage, that the atrocity was some kind of last desperate act against the inevitable momentum of the peace process. The pursuit of those responsible has been painfully slow - hampered by a lack of hard evidence.
In 2000, the BBC's Panorama named four men it believed were responsible for the bombing and in 2001 relatives of the victims launched a ?1m campaign to raise funds for a civil action against the alleged bombers. To explore developments in the search for peace, select a subject in a pull-down menu and click Go. We use a Creative Commons Attribution NoDerivatives licence, so you can republish our articles for free, online or in print. These make up the official memorial for the victims of the London bombings of 2005 – an unobtrusive testament of which many people are unaware. Even though dozens people died in the long campaign of bombings associated with the conflict in Northern Ireland, their loss has not been marked in this way. The Birmingham pub bombings of 1974, which killed 21 people, are marked with a simple plaque inside the grounds of the city cathedral. The 259 victims of Pan Am flight 103, which was bombed en route to New York in 1998, would have received no memorial – but their families eventually persuaded authorities to build a cairn in Arlington cemetery. More than a loss of innocent life, they became attacks perpetrated by an apocalyptic enemy of civilisation.


Terrorism rocketed up the global agenda as the most prominent threat after 2001, so despite a long familiarity with political violence, Britain’s memorial culture changed to incorporate new identity dynamics. David Cameron has not only promised a memorial for the 30 British people who died when a gunman attacked a beach in Sousse on June 26, but another to honour all British people killed in overseas terrorist incidents. And neither is there space for a memorial to the millions of civilians killed in the wars fought “against terror” in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The emergence of permanent memorials to victims of terror represents a global shift that is being continued and even expanded after the recent events in Tunisia. Only one person is killed and 44 injured, but the massive size of the bomb causes over ?1 billion damage.This bombing will lead to the creation of London's infamous "ring of steel," a cordon of security and surveillance that keeps everyone under constant observation.
Dissident republicans went on to carry out a string of sporadic and small-scale bombings in Northern Ireland before turning their attention to London.
The 52 victims of the London train and bus bombs are incorporated into a symbolic steel design, perpetually asserting and reminding visitors of their loss. Similarly the IRA’s Brighton hotel bombing, which was aimed at assassinating the then prime minister, Margaret Thatcher, at the Conservative Party’s 1984 annual conference, was met with a reconstruction of the Brighton Grand Hotel and, again, a simple plaque in the lobby in honour of the five people who died. Its existential enemy was gone and, with it, an anchoring point for American national identity. Terrorism became the new global threat against which national, and civilised, identities could be juxtaposed. Instead expensive designs are commissioned in the imagery of the endless war on terror, where the deaths of commuters are re-imagined as heroic losses in an eternal struggle between good and evil. Because the identity dynamic of the War on Terror requires us to forget the innocent who have died at the hands of our states.
In a series of publicity-seeking attacks, the group targeted MI6 and the BBC's headquarters. This is a political representation of unending grief in an era of supposedly unending terror.



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