Military Museums and Memorial Sites: Disappearing Women in the Military
Through a study of the USS Midway Museum as well as a veterans' ceremony on the deck of the former aircraft carrier, the chapter investigates military narratives on commemoration and death that are consumed by visitors at military sites of remembrance. Through the use of semiotics, the chapter illuminates gendered dimensions of public memory at these sites. Semiotics offer a unique means to excavate structures of meaning within military cemeteries, museums, and memorials—spaces created to communicate certain meanings. By excluding women’s military service from exhibits and remembrance ceremonies, war museums erase decades of women’s participation in war and reify national defense as a thoroughly masculine domain. Structuring public memory in ways "that determine what is remembered (or forgotten), by whom, and for what end” (Gillis, Memory and Identity: The History of a Relationship. In Commemorations: The Politics of National Identity, ed. John R. Gillis. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1994, p. 3), narratives of valor contribute to understandings of national belonging, linking membership to service in wars and subtly encoding citizenship as a male privilege.
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