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Wednesday, September 21, 2005

We have a winner!

For the 2005 Most Scorching Commentary Award (One-Sentence Category).

The winner is Mark Sullivan, offering up this brief, yet thorough evisceration of the controversial Flight 93 Memorial:

"Was the Box-Cutter of Friendship idea already taken?"

Now for my $0.02:

I saw the Discovery Channel documentary/docudrama about Flight 93 on Sunday. Verdict? Brilliant: heart-rending and inspiring at once. They were just random Americans--ordinary folks--thrown together and tossed unwillingly into the midst of a shattering, epochal event. They were given a choice: to do the passive, classically safe thing in hostage situations and wait it out, or to risk all in an effort to wrest control of what had become a deadly guided missile from murderous thugs.

They chose the latter, in a classically American fashion, in a show of hands. Thanks to their efforts, no one on the ground died.

As an architectural work, the winning entry is actually beautiful.

However.

Let's leave aside the crescent/Islam point, because I think it's pretty clear that it is unintentional (the architect has a thing for crescents and circles--check the link) and the firm has already agreed to make changes. The design falters because it ultimately fails to capture the essence of what happened: The skies over Shanksville, Pennsylvania were a battlefield four years ago. There's not a hint of that in the public memorial.

Please note the second to last word in the previous sentence: public. This is not a private decision, solely the province of the familes, analogous to selecting a headstone. This is a public commemoration of an act of war. Windchimes and maple trees fail to capture what happened on that day, much less do they convey it to generations to come. It's a fine commemoration for the therapeutic society, but not for the passengers, nor for the country. A serious redesign is in order.

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