US & World

As decades pass, the act of remembering evolves – Daily Local

Ted Anthony

Shanksville, PA (AP) — Everything is quiet across the vast field where the plane fell from the sky many years ago.

The hills around Shanksville seem to be swallowing the sound. Given the people who died in vast areas of southwestern Pennsylvania, the plateau that millions of Americans climb to visit the Flight 93 National Memorial is quiet, just above most of the landscape. Creating a quiet place in the place.

It is a place that encourages the act of remembering.

Twenty years have passed since United Airlines Flight 93 made its final descent. Confusion arose when the building burned 300 miles east. Nearly one-fifth of the country is too young to directly remember the day when everything changed.

At the end of the monument’s oversight, a muscular man in a leather Harley-Davidson vest talks to his two companions. He points to the patch that the plane hit. It’s an intimate conversation and it’s hard to hear what he’s saying.

But his first two words are clear.

“I remember …”


Remembering is not just a state of mind. It’s an act, as those who plead with us to never forget the Holocaust have long insisted. And when loss or trauma comes to humans, the act of remembering takes many forms.

Remembering is political. Those who disagree about the fate of Confederate statues throughout the southern United States have argued that the war on terror and the fight against its victims should be part of the debate about the memory of 9/11. As it is, it shows it.

When I recall, I wear a lot of coats. It arrives at the moment of ground zero ritual, silence and prayer, both public and private. It appears in folk monuments, such as those built on the side of a lonely road to indicate the location of a car accident death. It is embedded in the name of the place, such as the road leading to the monument to Flight 93, the Lincoln Highway. It comes to the surface with a search for “flashbulb memory”. This is the moment that follows us when this happens, and it may or may not be accurate.

There are personal, cultural, and political memories, and the boundaries between them are often blurred.

And for generations, memories are presented to us in monuments and monuments like Shanksville, negotiated and constructed to evoke and evoke memories and emotions of people and moments in a particular way. , Has been fine-tuned.

“Monuments are visible in history. They are shrines that celebrate the ideals, achievements and heroes that existed at one moment,” architectural historian Judith Dupré wrote about them in his 2007 book. 2001.

But while the monument stands, remembering itself evolves. How 9/11 is remembered depends on when 9/11 is remembered. Remembering it on September 15, 2001 or September 11, 2004 is different from remembering it on September 11, 2011. Moreover, it’s different from remembering it next weekend.

So what does memory mean when an event like the 20th anniversary, or 9/11, begins to recede into the past and become history, even though its response still shakes all the foundations? Is not it.

“Our present influences how we remember the past, sometimes in known ways, sometimes in ways we don’t notice,” said a professor of psychology at Lafayette College in Pennsylvania. Jennifer Tararico says. ..

Evidence of this is evident in the last five weeks of incidents in Afghanistan, where the 20-year war in direct response to 9/11 almost ended where it began. The oppressive and violent Taliban was in charge again.

“If we were still in Afghanistan and things were stable, we would probably remember 9/11 in a very different way than this year’s memory,” said Vice President of the Nonprofit Space Foundation. Richard Cooper says. The Department of Homeland Security has seen many memories over the years, years after the attack.

“The broken heart and pain I felt on the morning of September 12, 2001 is reviving itself,” says Cooper. “And that affects the way we remember it today.”


Even in more static forms of memory, such as the Flight 93 National Memorial, the question of how memory changes and evolves poses numerous problems.

At the visitor center, the visceral and painful artifacts of the moment bring the past back to life with incredible efficiency. The twisted, injured cutlery from the in-flight meal is a particularly breathtaking sight. However, the quiet oversights and the various memories presented far away from the thoughtful monument feel more lasting and more forever. And now, 20 years later, what happened a generation ago makes it more appropriate.

Paul Murdoch of Los Angeles, the chief architect of the monument, says the event and its impact were carefully tuned to resonate across multiple stages of memory.

“I can imagine a memorable approach to freezing some kind of anger in time or freezing fear, and it can be a very expressionist work of art, but. , I feel something can withstand for a long time, I think it has to work differently, “says Murdoch, who co-designed the monument with his wife, Milena.

“Now there are generations of people who didn’t live in 9/11,” says Murdoch. “So how do you talk to this new generation, or future generations?”

That question is particularly powerful in this 20th anniversary. There are generations born and grown up since the attack, as society tends to mark generations with a 20-year package. But that rarely means they aren’t paying attention. They “remember” even if they aren’t around.

Christine Bacho, a professor of psychology at Lumoin College in Syracuse, New York, is studying how nostalgia works. She found something interesting a few years ago when she was investigating how young people encountered their sympathetic stories, both personally and through the news.

According to Bacho, even those who lacked a living memory of 9/11 responded by talking about the incident. I remembered it as a shared experience.

And no wonder. So many first encounters with 9/11 on the day it happened were separate and joint in the tradition of the Information Age. People in different parts of the world and in different parts of the world saw the same live camera angle in the same few feeds under very different circumstances, and also saw the same, now indelible view of destruction. They experienced it separately, but together.

It formed some sort of communal memory, even if those who saw the same did not remember them as well — specific camera angles or vantage points, key figure comments, and the exact sequence of events. .. Experts like Tararico remember that, especially for intense flashbulb memory, where the details aren’t always accurate, although they’re carved into deep grooves like 9/11. say.

“We reconstruct the event through our own lens, and some of that lens is very sociable,” says Bacho. “You will find that your memory is more cohesive and homogeneous. It turns out to be much more complex.”


May 31, 2002, less than a year ago. Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani said at the opening of a high school student in Shanksville: And they will want to know what happened. “

September 11, 2016, 15th anniversary. President Barack Obama said: But for a family who lost part of their heart that day, it may seem just like yesterday. “

That fundamental tension-it feels like yesterday, yes, but it’s also becoming part of history for a long time-many people revisit 9/11 to think, and do their own act of memory. So that’s what we’ll face in the next few days.

Not at the heart of 9/11’s horror and its pain, but for those who experienced it as part of the culture they live in, it can somehow feel like both yesterday and old at once. increase. And, like so many acts of memory, it is still being debated and contested — and will continue for a long time to come.

“The sober ritual should not mislead us into thinking that the public memory of this horrific event has been resolved,” 9/11 historian John Bodner wrote in a May Washington Post opinion piece. rice field.

It’s easy to rely on such a saying from William Faulkner at hinge points like major anniversaries, especially at earthquakes like 9/11. Not in the past. But there is a reason for that saying.

Memory becomes history. And history—shared history—is held firmly and sometimes roughly. As a result, many people have a firm grasp of a pleasing nostalgic historical story, even when it has been shown to be both productive and destructive.

The act of remembering something like 9/11 comes with just that delicate balance. When memory becomes history, it can be farther away, like a monument to the War of Independence for those whose passion and sacrifice have been shattered over time. With distance, it can become calcified.

Of course, that won’t happen for a long time in 9/11. The politics is still shaking. The debate it created, and the way they rushed society in another direction, is as fierce as it was then.

And when the country stops to remember the morning 20 years before it was attacked, it’s not just looking over its shoulders. It also looks around and wonders: what does this mean for us now?

“What’s important in what you remember and how you remember it in making a monument?” J. William Thompson wrote in an elegant 2017 book, “Memorial from Memory.” To: Shanksville, USA, Flight 93 “was wondering.

The answer is, of course, complicated. But behind all the formal words and methods of commemorating the day that confused the world lies something more fundamental. It’s a simple instruction to understand what has changed and how.

On the cover of Thompson’s book, a man is standing looking at the crash site of Shanksville, raising his right arm. To his left is a hand-painted sign with the four words “I didn’t forget” and one declaration etched.


Ted Anthony, director of the Associated Press’s new storytelling and newsroom innovation, was director of AP’s Asia Pacific News from 2014 to 2018 and covered the aftermath of 9/11 in Afghanistan and Pakistan from 2001 to 2003. rice field. : //

As decades pass, the act of remembering evolves – Daily Local

Source link As decades pass, the act of remembering evolves – Daily Local

Related Articles

Back to top button