Remembering An Empty Field

<p>At the World Trade Center and Pentagon, plans are underway for elaborate memorials to the victims of the September 11 terrorist attacks. But what of the non-descript field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where another hijacked flight crashed that day?</p>
January 3, 2008, 10am PST | Nate Berg
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"Nature has reclaimed her dominion; beyond the scorched trees there is no crater, no obvious, comforting scar in the land. Crime scene investigators replaced the contaminated topsoil, and time has done the rest. Nature heals. Nature forgets. Nature is indifferent."

"Human beings, however, are not - or at least so we tell ourselves. We like to believe that we recognize and account all suffering, that we honor heroism. We like to believe that human memory does not yield so easily to the wearing force of time. We like to believe we can stare long enough at those faraway trees and, yes, see where the burning jet fuel left its mark - that we can read the ash and know its meaning."

"Here lies the problem: Absent the obvious symbolism of the World Trade Center or the Pentagon sites - the gaping pit where international commerce formerly towered; the charred base of the military establishment - Shanksville has only a naked field, tabula rasa. 'A common field one day. A field of honor forever,' says the Flight 93 National Memorial Mission Statement. But how will that field look to the future?"

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Published on Saturday, December 15, 2007 in The Next American City
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