Wednesday, May 12, 2010
I saw the Pentagon a month after it had been hit and before it was repaired. I went with Mary to Ground Zero in December 2001, and I had always thought I'd want to go to Shanksville, Pennsylvania, as well -- not enough to make a special trip, but if I were ever in the area.
And today I did. It is way off the beaten path. The site was 15 miles away from my hotel and the google directions said something like 25 minutes which I thought was oddly long, but it was more like 35 minutes on really back, winding roads.
My intent was sincerely to just see it, understand the geography and pay my respects. I have thought about the people on that airplane and my wish for them was that their suffering was short. I have two degrees of separation from two people on that flight -- the brother of someone I know and the former boss of a client's wife. I have to say that I wished I had not gone.
First off, it's billed as a temporary memorial. I guess, like NY, there's too much politics. So it is this area where you don't even know where the plane was -- there's no brochure, map, sign, explanation -- just this fenced in dirt area of trinkets -- angel statues you'd see in the Dollar store, raggedy tshirts hanging, hats, buttons, pins, sea shells, a motley collection of memorial stones -- just any odd memento you felt like leaving I guess you could.
At one point I started crying, just for how alienated I felt from all this.
If you look at the first picture, you see this bunch of figurines in the upper left of the photo. Those are stylized tin angels, one for each passenger that are all rusted. They are the kind of thing you'd see as a lawn ornament.
You can see that the "memorial" consists of a fenced in area where there's this odd collection of stuff- - including a stone from the American Judo Association, naming Todd Beamer (the let's roll guy) an honorary black belt.
Can't we honor these people without having to insert ourselves and our pins and patches into it? Clearly I must be in the minority here of wanting to simply respectfully visit this site, and have a moment of quiet contemplation. There is zero dignity here.