Flight 93.Revised1


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This Saturday, a permanent memorial in honor of the 40 victims of the September 11 hijacking of Flight 93 will be dedicated at the site of the crash in Stonybrook Township, Pennsylvania. This Powerpoint presentation on the process of memorialization and the construction of meaning is based on my two visits to the crash site, in 1995 and 1997.

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  • I would like to use this presentation as a means of thinking about the creation of meaning that followed 9/11 at the sites where violence occurred. An underlying theme of the presentation is the production of emotional meaning. We will be dealing with the recoding of the crash site of Flight 93, how an empty field became a sacred place, a field of honor.
  • I also would like to use the presentation as a means of thinking about what Caplan calls “the visual rhetoric of spontaneous shrines” (the content of the shrines, and their appearance): “What is really sad is that we already know what to bring.” As in the case of Columbine and Oklahoma City, the spontaneous wall contained “candles. Flowers, stuffed animals…photographs, notes and messages…” The “spontaneous” element of memorial shrines varies enormously. Discuss. (Street shrines for Pope Paul, and roadside shines for accident victims, contrasting with “remembrance wall” for Flight 93) Let’s take a closer look at what “pilgrims” brought to the “spontaneous” Flight 93 shrine.
  • Items left at improvised memorial shrines are not just memorabilia, offerings in memory of the deceased. They are messages as well. Who is the audience for the messages? The grieving public, certainly, but also the media. “ Whoever initiates temporary memorials is engaged in actively producing meaningful narrative through symbolism”
  • Note the use of the word “shrine” to describe sites such as this one. The Ft 93 memorial is not a Christian shrine, but certainly religious rhetoric is everywhere present. What is going on here?
  • The concept of " sacred ground ". "What does it mean when sites of violence are declared sacred? MS: 315, "Sacred ground is charged with meaning. It implies not daily life but worship, contemplation, and a suspension of ordinary activities. In a sacred space, all activities have meaning, all are transformed into ritual."
  • Memorialized victims of traumatic death “have political lives and “speak” in various ways. How do they do so, and why?
  • “ How symbols gain and change their meaning in response to changing political circumstances” 1,011 entries, “ Disturbed Harmony” features a 2.5-mile-long “Bravery Wall” running through the countryside. The “spine” of the memorial, the wall would be visible to planes flying above and daily traffic along U.S. Route 30, while offering “a very emotional moment” for visitors walking along it, close enough to read stories of the 40 passengers, and their acts of bravery, embedded in its surface.
  • Submitted by by a University of Waterloo architecture student, Ken Lum. “ (F)Light” leads visitors to the site of the crash along a glass, quartzite and steel “scar” that traces a luminous line across the landscape, echoing the jet’s flight path. Descending into the bowl, visitors are gradually removed from the sights and sounds of the park.”
  • This design uses three of the primary features of the crash site in a constructive way. It features a memorial fence for visitors to leave tags inscribed with messages. The architect who designed the memorial was inspired by the improvised site, and especially the things people left behind at the site. The tags you can see in the picture allow people to leave messages, sentiments and wishes . The architect notes: "The memorial is one that is constantly changing, being created by the people that participate by visiting."
  • The main feature of “Crescent of Embrace” is two stands of red maple trees to line a walkway following the natural bowl shape of the land. Forty separate groves of red and sugar maples were to be planted behind the crescent , and eastern white oak trees for each victim of Flight 93. A black slate wall would mark the edge of the crash site, where the remains of those who died now rest. Paul Murdoch, the architect who designed the memorial, said that he wanted to emphasize the element of embrace , “a collective gesture to bring people together within the bowl.”” This sentiment was echoed by government officials and family members.
  • . The "Tower of Voices," housing 40 aluminum wind chimes, marks the entry to and exit from the memorial site. It stands on a planted mound within a ring of white pines. "The continuing songs of chimes in the wind celebrate a living memory of those who are honored," say the architects.
  • In 2004, the Iraqi Governing Council announced a new flag for post-Saddam Iraq. Burned by insurgents in Fallujah the day before its official adoption on 27 April, 2004. In the face of the controversy, adoption of the blue crescent flag was abandoned.
  • The resulting controversy resulted in some changes, including a name change, from “Crescent of Embrace”, to “Arc of Embrace” The trees were extended so that the formed a circle, rather than a crescent.
  • Flight 93.Revised1

    1. 1. Flight 93: Memorial and Meaning
    2. 2. “ How do memorial sites cultivate emotional involvement through institutionalized practices that represent and ‘remember’ events that occurred there?”
    3. 3. Shanksville, PA: 10:03 am, September 11, 2001 Flight 93: 2 pilots, 5 attendants, 37 passengers, including 4 hijackers.
    4. 4. Remembrance Wall
    5. 5. Makeshift Shrines
    6. 6. Messages in Stone
    7. 7. Personal Messages in Public: Graffiti as Commemoration
    8. 8. On the Wall: Symbols of Faith “… how quickly the site Became Christianized…
    9. 9. The Making of a Sacred Battlefield “ A common field one day. A field of honour forever.” Preamble, Mission Statement, FT. 93 Memorial
    10. 10. Silent Witness “ If you had known me, and known yourself, you would not have killed me” (Rwanda)
    11. 12. The Design Competition: Grief, Aesthetics, Politics Finalist # 1: “Disturbed Harmony”
    12. 13. Finalist #2: (F)Light: A Luminous Roofscape
    13. 14. Finalist #3: Fields, Forests, Fences
    14. 15. The Winner: “Crescent of Embrace” Paul Murdoch, Architects
    15. 17. Crescent Flags Pakistan Libya, 1951 - 1969 Algeria Proposed flag of Iraq, 2004, later abandoned
    16. 18. Whose “Sacred Space”?: The Contestation of Meaning and Memorial
    17. 20. The Flight 93 Memorial Redesigned “… as American as apple pie”
    18. 21. The Making of Meaning and Memory Continues UNITED 93