Shanksville, PA (AP) – All is calm in the vast field where the plane fell from the sky many years ago.
The hills around Shanksville seem to swallow the sound. Considering the dead in large areas of southwestern Pennsylvania, the plateau millions of Americans climb to visit the National Flight 93 Memorial is calm, just above most of the landscape. Create a quiet spot 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. The confusion arose when the building burned down 300 miles to the east. Almost a fifth of the country is too young to directly remember the day that all changed.
After forgetting the monument, a muscular man in a Harley-Davidson leather vest talks to his two companions. It shows 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 is an act, as those who plead with us never to forget the Holocaust have long insisted. And when loss or trauma occurs in humans, the act of remembering takes many forms.
Memory is political. Those who disagree on the fate of Confederate statues across the southern United States have argued that the war on terrorism and the fight against its victims should be part of the 9/11 remembrance debate. As it is, it shows it.
When I remember I wear a lot of coats. It comes at the time of Ground Zero ritual, silence and prayer, both public and private. It appears in popular monuments, such as those built by the side of an isolated road to indicate the location of a death in a car accident. It is embedded in the name of the place, like the road leading to the monument to Flight 93, the Lincoln Highway. It comes to the surface with a search for “flash memory”. This is the moment that follows us when it happens, and it may or may not be right.
There are personal, cultural and political memories, and the boundaries between them are often blurred.
And for generations, memories are presented to us in landmarks and monuments like Shanksville, negotiated and constructed to evoke and evoke memories and emotions of people and times in a special way. , Has been refined.
“The monuments are visible in history. They are shrines that celebrate the ideals, achievements and heroes that have existed at one point in time, ”architectural historian Judith Dupré wrote about them in her 2007 book. 2001.
But as long as the monument stands, the memory itself evolves. How you remember September 11 depends on when you remember September 11. Remembering it September 15, 2001 or September 11, 2004 is different from remembering it September 11, 2011. Plus, it’s different to remember it next weekend.
So what does memory mean when an event like the 20th anniversary or 9/11 begins to step back into the past and become history, even though its response still shakes all foundations? Is not it.
“Our present influences the way we remember the past, sometimes in familiar ways, sometimes in ways we don’t notice,” said a professor of psychology at Lafayette College in Pennsylvania. says Jennifer Tararico. ..
Evidence of this is evident in the past 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 were once again in charge.
“If we were still in Afghanistan and things were stable, we would probably remember September 11 in a very different way than this year,” said the vice president of the Nonprofit Space Foundation. Richard Cooper said. 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 rekindled,” Cooper says. “And that affects the way we remember it today.”
Even in more static forms of memory, such as the Flight 93 National Memorial, there are many issues with how memory changes and evolves.
At the reception center, the visceral and painful artefacts of the moment bring the past to life with incredible effectiveness. The twisted and injured cutlery of the in-flight meal is a particularly breathtaking sight. However, the silent forgetfulness and various memories presented far from the reflected monument seem more enduring and everlasting. And now, 20 years later, what happened a generation ago makes it more appropriate.
Paul Murdoch of Los Angeles, the monument’s chief architect, said the event and its impact were carefully tuned to resonate through multiple stages of memory.
“I can imagine a memorable approach to freezing some kind of anger in time or fear, and it can be a very expressionistic work of art, but. , I feel like something can resist 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 did not experience 9/11,” says Murdoch. “So how do you speak to this new generation or to future generations? “
This question is particularly strong on this 20th anniversary. There are generations born and raised since the attack, as society tends to mark generations with a 20-year bundle. But that rarely means they’re not paying attention. They “remember” even if they are not there.
Christine Bacho, professor of psychology at Lumoin College in Syracuse, New York, studies how nostalgia works. She found something interesting a few years ago when she was investigating how young people encountered their likable stories, both personally and through the news.
According to Bacho, even those who did not have a living memory of 9/11 responded by talking about the incident. I remembered it as a shared experience.
And no wonder. So many early encounters with September 11 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 have seen the same live camera angle in the same few streams under very different circumstances, and have also seen the same, now indelible, view of destruction. They lived it separately, but together.
It formed a kind of common memory, although those who saw the same thing may not remember it as well – specific camera angles or points of view, comments from key figures and the exact sequence of events. .. Experts like Tararico remember this, especially for intense flash memory, where details are not always precise, despite being etched in deep grooves like 9/11. to say.
“We are reconstructing the event through our own lens, and part of that lens is very sociable,” says Bacho. “You will find that your memory is more coherent and homogeneous. It turns out it’s a lot more complex. “
May 31, 2002, less than a year ago. Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani said when opening a high school student in Shanksville: And they’ll want to know what happened. “
September 11, 2016, 15th anniversary. President Barack Obama said: But for a family that lost part of their heart that day, it may seem like yesterday. “
This fundamental tension – it’s like yesterday, yes, but it’s also been history for a long time – many people revisit 9/11 to reflect and do their own act of remembrance. So this is what we will be faced with in the coming days.
Not in the midst of the horror and pain of 9/11, but to those who have experienced it as part of the culture they live in, it can feel both yesterday and old at the same time. to augment. And, like so many acts of remembrance, it is still debated and contested – and will continue for a long time to come.
“The sober ritual should not make us believe that the public memory of this horrific event has been solved,” 9/11 historian John Bodner wrote in a Washington Post op-ed in May. paddy field.
It is easy to trust such a saying from William Faulkner at pivotal times like major birthdays, especially during earthquakes like September 11. Not in the past. But there is a reason for this saying.
Memory becomes history. And the story, the shared story, is held firmly and sometimes brutally. As a result, many people have a solid grasp of an enjoyable nostalgic historical story, even when it has proven to be both productive and destructive.
The act of remembering something like 9/11 comes with this delicate balance. When memory becomes history, it can be more distant, like a monument to the War of Independence for those whose passion and sacrifice have been shattered over time. With distance, it can calcify.
Of course, that won’t happen until September 11. Politics are still shaking. The debate he created, and the way they precipitated the company 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. He also looks around and asks himself: what does this mean for us now?
“What is important about what you remember and how do you remember it by making a monument? J. William Thompson wrote in an elegant 2017 book, “Memorial from Memory.” To: Shanksville, United States, Flight 93 ”wondered.
The answer is of course complicated. But behind all the formal words and methods of commemorating the day that troubled the world lies something more fundamental. It is a simple instruction to understand what has changed and how.
On the cover of Thompson’s book, a man stands and looks at the Shanksville crash site, raising his right arm. To its left is a hand painted sign with the four words “I haven’t forgotten” and an engraved statement.
Ted Anthony, Associated Press Newsroom Director of New Storytelling and Innovation, was AP Asia Pacific News Director from 2014 to 2018 and covered the aftermath of 9/11 in Afghanistan and the United States. Pakistan from 2001 to 2003. paddy field. : //Twitter.com/anthonyted