Five and a half years on, the only good news on the 9/11 memorials is that they’re not (yet) Islamic Education Centers funded by Saudi princes. Nonetheless, Jonathan V Last’s account of the Flight 93 memorial’s “progress” makes very sobering reading. A combination of bureaucratic process and our contemporary culture’s default mode of tasteful passivity has brought about something that’s more or less the precise opposite of what Flight 93 embodies:
Part of the Bowl is designated “Wetlands”: “The area will be its own kind of healing landscape, as it will be a habitat full of life. . . . Here visitors will be most aware of continuously connected living systems as the circular path literally bridges the hydrology of the Bowl.”
The architects proclaimed that their plan was for a “living memorial” that “offers the visitor space for reflection, learning, social interaction, and healing.”
All that plus wind chimes. A true Flight 93 memorial would honor courage, action and improvisation, but reflection, healing and wetlands are the best we can manage. Go to any Civil War memorial on any New England common, and marvel at how they managed to honor their dead without wetlands and wind chimes.