Stories

The trees are dedicated not only to lives lost, but also to events passed. They benefit the memory of family members and historians, alike. The following word analyses are meant to provide some of the stories these trees might tell.

Returning to Tree #129, dedicated to the African embassy bombing victims, the following New York Times article provides a quick glance over what happened in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam. African Embassies

Context is provided by the larger words–U.S., embassy, Nairobi, blast, explosion–while smaller details of the destruction surround these crucial terms. Nairobi may be featured more prominently because of the higher number of casualties, 213, to Dar es Salaam’s 11.

Conducting the same exercise for the 1984 embassy bombing in Beirut, which killed 63 people and is one of the events memorialized by Tree #4, reveals the following: 1984 Beirut

And for comparison’s sake, the 1983 bombing in Beirut that claimed 229 lives is also displayed below. 1983 Beirut 2

The location, Beirut, of the attacks clearly stands out in both diagrams, as do the targets, “embassy” and “barracks”. The 1983 bombing configuration provides a greater hint as to the context of the attack. At the time, there was a peacekeeping force in Lebanon because of a cease-fire agreement between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization, or PLO, which can be seen below barracks. The attack resulted in the deaths of French servicemen, along with American soldiers, and resulted in the U.S. withdrawal from the region.

Tombstones are also capable of telling stories. Religious insignia, family relations, and war participation similarly recall battles, motives, and the intense humanity of those involved. But these trees reflect the international victims of violence. Terrorist attacks have been experienced around the world, and unlike war, terrorism is perpetual. Yes, back to back war may be considered perpetual also, but the boundaries of wars, the objectives, justifications, and parties involved are, for the most part, known. Terrorism is difficult to talk about for these reasons–the unknowns largely overpower available information, a phenomena made more poignant because of our desire to receive detail after detail of events.

The following Google Ngram shows the ease with which we might speak of war, but not of terrorism.

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