Blog Post – Have We Forgotten?
We probably all remember where we were when we first heard of the attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. We probably all remember how we were glued to the radio and TV throughout the day to catch every bit of news we could as the vast tragedy began to unfold before a shocked America. For a few short days – perhaps weeks — the country set aside differences and stood united. For a few short weeks, Americans turned to God.
As the heroic efforts by passengers on Flight 93 became public, people began to flood the crash site and the community around that old Shanksville strip mine came together to help a nation mourn. A temporary memorial was set up where fellow Americans and even foreign visitors could leave personal messages and mementos – stuffed animals, trinkets, notes, etc. Volunteers from around Shanksville became “ambassadors” which retold the story of the heroic efforts of the passengers on United Flight 93 to those who visited the temporary memorial.
Step in the National Park Service with the idea to hold a contest to choose the design for the permanent Flight 93 Memorial. Thus begins the controversy. This from a September 14, 2005 Michelle Malkin column: War memorials should memorialize war. If you want peace and understanding and healing and good will toward all, go build Kabbalah centers.
Funded with a mix of public money and private cash (including a $500,000 grant from Teresa Heinz’s far left Heinz Endowments), the winning design, titled the “Crescent of Embrace,” features a grove of maple trees ringing the crash site in the shape of an unmistakable red crescent. The crescent, New York University Middle East Studies professor Bernard Haykel told the Johnstown, Pa., Tribune-Democrat, “is the symbol of ritual and religious life for Muslims.”
Some design contest jury members reportedly raised concerns about the jarring symbol of the hijackers’ faith implanted on the hallowed ground where the passengers of Flight 93 were murdered. But their recommendations to change the name of the memorial (to “Arc of Embrace,” or some such whitewashing) were ignored. Memorial architect Paul Murdoch, whose firm emphasizes “environmental responsibility and sustainability,” did not return calls and e-mails seeking comment, but he did emphasize to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that his creation was about “healing” and “contemplation.” He is also proud of his idea to hang a bunch of wind chimes in a tall tower at the site as a “gesture of healing and bonding.”
Wind chimes? Hey, why not add pinwheels and smiley face stickers and Care Bears while we’re at it, too?
Let’s set aside the utter boneheaded-ness of using a symbol that, inadvertently or not, commemorates the killers’ faith instead of the victims’ revolt. The soft-and-fuzzy memorial design of “Crescent of Embrace” still does injustice to the steely courage of the Flight 93’s passengers and crew. It evokes the defeatism embodied by those behind a similar move to turn the 9/11 memorial at Ground Zero in New York City into a pacifist guilt complex.
This is no way to fight a war. Or to remember those who have died fighting it.
A proper war memorial stirs to anger and action. We all remember passenger Todd Beamer’s last heard words as he and his fellow Americans prepared to take back the plane from al Qaeda’s killers, don’t we?
No, the phrase wasn’t “Let’s meditate.” It was ‘Let’s roll.’”
Mark Steyn weighed in on the controversy: If (architect Paul) Murdoch sincerely believes in a “crescent of embrace”, let him build one – at the headquarters of a “moderate” Islamic lobby group, or in the parking lot of your wackier colleges. To impose it on Flight 93 – to, in effect, hijack those passengers a second time – is an abomination. Flight 93 is about what happens when you understand that some things can’t be embraced.
About that same time period, the New York Sun editorialized: “We went to the architect’s Web site, where some images of the design are posted. We kept looking for an American flag or some patriotic symbol and just couldn’t find any. Perhaps we missed it. We hope so. The revolt on flight 93 is going to go down in American history as one of the great moments, and “Let’s roll” is going to rank with the retort that General McAuliffe, surrounded by the enemy en route to Bastogne, delivered to the Nazi demand for surrender, “Nuts.”
There is, incidentally, a museum in Bastogne known as the “Nuts Museum,” a modest place commemorating the spirit of General McAuliffe’s soldiers. Imagine if it had been built in, say, the shape of the German eagle . . . .”
By the way, last year a 93-foot tower with wind chimes for each of the victims and a grove of trees, called the Tower of Voices was unveiled at the entrance of the Flight 93 Memorial.
Because of the Islamic symbolism within the Flight 93 Memorial design Tom Burnett Sr. asked that the name of his 38-year-old son, Tom Burnett, Jr., who was killed in the crash, not be included. To the best of my knowledge, the National Park Service did not honor that request.
By the way, a fire in October 2014 at the Flight 93 National Memorial consumed thousands of artifacts from passengers and crew of United Airlines Flight 93, along with the flag that flew above the U.S. Capitol on Sept. 11, 2001. Additionally, a record of what had been collected at the memorial was also burned up. An investigation found conditions could have been avoided to prevent the fire — the absence of an adequate “fire prevention system,” inadequate storage facilities and the presence of flammable materials. All it took was a stray cigarette or cigar to ignite some mulch, which is what investigators “strongly” suspect started the fire. Plastic “lumber” also fueled the flames, the report found.
So . . . some of America’s history goes up in flames . . . .
Here we are eighteen years after that day where 3,000 Americans died in three separate attacks on American soil. Where have we come as a nation? Are children learning the real story of that day or are their lessons being whitewashed as so many attempts have been made to whitewash the memorials that were built to commemorate the heroism of that day? How many Americans remember “Let’s roll” and the heroic actions that followed those words?
How will the story of September 11, 2001 evolve in another eighteen years? Questions we, as Americans, should all ponder.