The Search for True Rememberance

12 September 2008

What with yesterday being the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, I got to thinking about public memorials. Especially after reading that a U.S. Congressman blocked $10 million in Federal funding for building a memorial for the victims of Flight 93.

That may seem unnecessarily frugal, even cruel (the man is, after all, a Republican), but then think about it for a minute. $10 million?

And that's not the half of it. Consider the still-growing costs of building the WTC memorial. Is the school of thought that the extent of the memorial must be used to show the depth of grief? Just look at the Columbine memorial, which brings to mind a Greek amphitheatre. It seems to be a peculiarly American phenomenon, with some exceptions, such as the Princess Diana memorial fountain, which resembles nothing so much as a concrete drainage ditch.

To me a memorial has always seemed like it should be a quiet place of reflection, not an elaborate monument. What's most important at a memorial is what the observer brings to it, not what they gain from it.

The Shanksville memorial will feature 40 groves of trees planted over a 400 acre site, along with 40 windchimes, paths and a slate wall. The total estimated cost is now $57 million dollars. Surely it would be better to erect a dignified, sober rememberance wall featuring the names of the victims - total cost a few hundred thousand dollars - then spend the money on something worthwhile. I'm sure the victims would rather they were paid tribute with a school, hospital or library than concrete sculpture.

A cousin of one of the Flight 93 passengers said of the Shanksville crash site, "I've been on the site. The land out there speaks volumes. Anyone who's been there senses there is something special."

Seems like the memorial is already complete.


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