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« Lobster and lilacs | Main | "Decency in the face of barbarism and murder" »

May 20, 2007


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The nature of humans varies. For those with imaging ability the emptiness of a battlefield is what relates to the timelessness of what occurred there. For others the statue of the men themselves is easier to understand. Different strokes for different folks.

It seems to me Mark Steyn can't help but feel that a wide-open space would seem somehow *vacant*. It's as if he needs to see something more specific in order to feel any connection to what actually happened at the site

i love those photos and the subject of the debate.
not certain Ms. Malkin is someone who can judge everthing, from politics to memorials.
but who is?
many sites - memorials in the past, were objected to, and then embraced as the site, a place in which something memorable happens, becomes familar and later dear.
right now the WTC is still a hole, and it has more meaning than the Statue of Liberty at times.
i tend to think, some cynics have too much time on their hands, and should be forced to try to create something on their own, just so they have a more reasoned approach next time.
i guess i really tire of ego.

As hnav says, many Memorials had strenuous objections before they were erected (I remember all the criticism of "The Wall").

That being said. There is something in what Mark has to say about a single "concrete" piece that people can focus on. You are a landscape architect which gives you a totally different perspective, you have to remember that 99.999% of the people in this country don't have your background, so while it might be naturally beautiful - it lacks the focus for memorializing those who have gone before us with tremendous courage.

Most people need something specific to focus on - to concentrate their thoughts. Mother Nature is too vast for that. Can't we have both? A beautiful area and a set memorial piece? Does one preclude the other? A beautiful peaceful area with a point of focus... why is that a bad thing?

The thing about the Gettysburg Battleground is that there are little or large markers (stone monuments, if you will) that force the visitor to stand and look at the same ground where once 350 ploughboys from Oswego, New York stood shoulder to shoulder with the dreaded Iron Brigade at the railroad cut on the first day. The High Water Mark, at the stone fence where Armbruster died of wounds while asking after his friend W.S.Hancock. The jumbled slope of Little Round Top where Chamberlain and the 20th Maine held the end of the Union line against all comers. The place under the trees across the open fields where Picket's Charge mustered while the Confederate artillery hammered the Union positions in the early afternoon, the last time that the South could honestly feel that they could win it, that they would win.
Gettysburg brings that to the visitor because the markers are understated against the sweep of the place. I do not see markers, I see farm boys in blue uniforms, limbered guns racing to a new firing position, normal men engaged in a titanic contest about ideas so much larger than they were that it still rings in our ears.
What those people did on Flight 93 was like that. We need to remember them as they were, incredibly brave and determined not to allow the intended horror of their captors visit any further harm to their countrymen. As Gettysburg cannot be made more meaningful by the addition of gaudy memorials, neither can that field in Pennsylvania.

From Beowulf, lines 1384 ff:
"Do not grieve, wise lord. It is always better
To avenge your friends than to mourn them."

"Leave here troll, or stay and meet your doom!"


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