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While Lin’s monument was forced by public outrage to add a flag, Murdoch’s revised design is taking them away. The brochure announcing the changes includes an illustration of the sacred ground with an American flag flying there. But the text of the brochure notes:
Despite his gaffe with the red crescent and the new one with the flag, Murdoch may have learned a few things from the controversy over the Vietnam Memorial. Rather than keeping the monument entirely at ground level, he erected something called a “Tower of Voices” off near the highway. Unfortunately, it’s not a traditional tower, but rather a sleek, modern one housing forty aluminum wind chimes, one for each of the remembered dead.
Nothing evokes the “mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave” like a bunch of wind chimes. Tinkle, tinkle, tinkle.
A THIRD ANTECEDENT of the failure of the Flight 93 memorial was the notion — often discussed in the planning of the New York 9/11 Memorial — that it would be a sacrilege to build on “sacred ground,” whether it be the crash site of Flight 93 in Pennsylvania or the “footprints” of the Twin Towers.
Where did this idea come from? Religions build upon sacred ground all the time. Look in Jerusalem at the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount or at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, built at the site of the Crucifixion. Or see Bramante’s Tempietto erected on the site of St. Peter’s execution.
It is precisely in order to differentiate the ordinary from the sacred that these monuments were built. Admittedly, any structure on such important real estate must be equal to the task of commemorating the events that hallowed the ground. But it is far better to try and fail than never to try, and leave the sacred indistinct from the profane.
Or were Bramante et al. simply wrong?
The aesthetic of the Murdoch design is not, as Error Theory suggested, Islamofascist, but rather pagan, or at least New Age. The chimes, the Stonehenge-like circle of trees, the obsession with the ecology of the area, all decry the thoroughly Californicated roots of the idea. Granted, his design was judged the best of several entries. But perhaps because of the three reasons suggested above, all of the entrants seemed similarly diffident and non-committal about the events they attempt to commemorate. Perhaps they misunderstand them.
A war had long been declared on America, but despite the attacks at Khobar Towers, the USS Cole in Yemen, and our African embassies, we only began to grasp the magnitude of the threat with the other three hijackings that same morning. The second amendment of our Constitution speaks of a “well-regulated militia.” Well, the civilian passengers organized — regulated — themselves into a militia that foiled the terrorists’ plans.
Flight 93’s battle marked the first time in this war the American militia took a stand — not with bunker busters and rifles but with drink carts and pots of hot coffee. This was our newest Lexington and these men and women — not the Iraqi insurgents, as Michael Moore suggested — were our newest Minutemen.
I wish America’s architects had, like the heroes they are supposed to honor, risen to the occasion. But I fear that if we seek a fitting monument to the courage of those passengers, today’s builders will prove incapable of visualizing it. They don’t even know their monuments from a hole in the ground.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?