Flight 93 Memorial

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Postby Shapley » Wed May 23, 2007 5:04 pm

Sgt. Alvin York was a quiet and unassuming man most of his life. But when a statue was built to honour him, it showed him as he was we wish to remember him - a combat hero:

Image

Anything less would not be fitting to the man.

We don't build statues to the common or to the ordinary, we build them to honour achievement. We do not build monuments to honour disease and disability, but rather to those who rise above it. It is fine to honour FDR as a man who was able to overcome disability to rise to greatness, but putting him in the wheelchair shows a man being overcome by disability, not a man overcoming it.

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Postby Selma in Sandy Eggo » Thu May 24, 2007 8:54 am

I wrote:Aim for life-size and dignified; it wears better in the long run.

Looks like the sculptor of the Sgt. York statue heard me. Amazing.

Nothing Rambo-esque there. Typical infantry - man on his (probably tired) feet, with a rifle. Pose, uniform, weapon all ordinary, to honor an exemplary infantryman. There was probably a little artistic license taken to promote a tidy appearance but otherwise, he is shown as he was in life. There's no indication of scale in the photo, but if the statue base is a fairly ordinary four inches, he'd be about lifesized. And dignified.
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Postby Shapley » Thu May 24, 2007 9:27 am

The statue is 10' tall, I assume that includes the base, making the statue lifesize, or very nearly.

Sgt. York was bigger than life, I would expect his statue to be, as well.
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Postby Selma in Sandy Eggo » Thu May 24, 2007 10:13 am

Bigger than life? Well, taller than average maybe.
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Postby piqaboo » Thu May 24, 2007 10:58 am

Shapley wrote:It is fine to honour FDR as a man who was able to overcome disability to rise to greatness, but putting him in the wheelchair shows a man being overcome by disability, not a man overcoming it

And I could not disagree with you more.

Wheelchairs are one tool by which people overcome a handicap.
The man was president of the USofA fer petes sake. Even the weakest of US presidents are unlikely to be weak people.
(I HATE the term disability. Handicap means things are made more difficult. Disability means unable. )

Show them as they were when they became heros / worthy of honor. Why would we show Reagan chopping wood? Show him as he was as President - he'd look bloody stupid on a horse in shining armor, and even stupider on one in a business suit. So if you want the horse, you get chaps. If you want the business suit, you get standing. FDR you get sitting, possibly in a wheelchair. And Sgt York, as he was when he became a hero.

You want to show overcome by a handicap, show the many people who refuse to leave their homes once they are unable to walk, because they are too embarrassed to use the tools that would give them mobility. FDR used that chair, and he was aware of public perceptions of the time, so he also hid the chair. Why perpetuate the need to hide such things? If Chris Reeves did anything good in this world, and he certainly tried to, it was to remove much stigma from wheel chairs etc.
How can it possibly lessen the man, that he needed help to get about? He ran the USA fer petes sake. How does it lessen Mr Reagan, that after his term in office, he went senile? (so long as he had the good sense to get out before becoming affected - debatable. I'm not expressing an opinion here if he did or not, Im saying there's room for both opinions to be expressed).
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Postby Shapley » Thu May 24, 2007 11:28 am

I disagree.

A statue of Stephen Hawking, for instance, would include the wheelchair, because the wheelchair is as much a defining factor of who he is as his science.

FDR, on the other hand, fought hard to ensure that he was not defined by his wheelchair. As much as I dislike the man's politics, I think we owe it to him to recognize him, if we must, in his preferred manner. If it's reality that we seek, we would honor him with a monument showing him picking the pockets of wealthy Americans and ordering Japanese-Americans into concentration camps, but we don't like that reality. Our demand for reality remains quite limited...
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Postby piqaboo » Thu May 24, 2007 11:37 am

[quote="Shapley"]A statue of Stephen Hawking, for instance, would include the wheelchair, because the wheelchair is as much a defining factor of who he is as his science. [quote]

however do you come to this conclusion?

What would you have - FDR standing up?
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Postby Shapley » Thu May 24, 2007 11:57 am

Prof. Hawking is almost always photographed in his wheelchair. Thus, I say it is a defining part of his character. He discusses his disability on his website.

There are hundreds of Photos of FDR, usually sitting, but rarely in a wheelchair. Look at the photos of him with Churchill, with Stalin, etc., and you won't see the wheelchair. He preferred it that way.
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Postby Shapley » Thu May 24, 2007 12:20 pm

Here's a photo of the memorial, BTW:

Image
Courtesy of the Washington DC Convention and Tourism Corporation

Here's a photo of another monument to him:

Image
From the same source

The second one is more in keeping with the image FDR preferred to have remembered.
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Postby piqaboo » Thu May 24, 2007 3:15 pm

I can buy an argument that he hated his wheelchair to be shown (not surprising, given the times and the general view on physical limitations), and so to not show it out of respect for his wishes.
What I can not agree with is that showing the chair diminishes him.
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Postby OperaTenor » Thu May 24, 2007 3:32 pm

piqaboo wrote:What I can not agree with is that showing the chair diminishes him.



That's because you lack superficiality.
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Postby piqaboo » Thu May 24, 2007 3:42 pm

OperaTenor wrote:That's because you lack superficiality.


Hey! :curse: Them's fightin' words! :owned: :rant: I can too be superficial when I want to! :blonde: So there! PthththtthT! :razz: :P :poke:

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Postby Shapley » Thu May 24, 2007 4:27 pm

I didn't say it diminished him, that was your interpretation of my words. I said it honours his victimization. He was a victim of Polio, (or by some modern analysis, a victim of Guillain-Barré Syndrome). FDR did not wish to be remembered thus, but rather wished to be remembered for his service to humanity (as he percieved it). By placing him in the wheelchair, we violate the his wishes, and draw the focus on a different aspect of his life than that for which he stands to be honoured.

Don't get me wrong, I don't think he belongs on a pedastal, either. I think many of his programs did considerable damage to this country, and he set us on the long march to socialism, which I do not consider an honourable deed. He taught Americans how to write themselves cheques from the Federal Treasury, and built a legacy of entitlement that even today threatens the financial stability of our government. However, the larger body of Americans believes his accomplishments merit him some honour, and so he is honoured. Is it right, however, to attempt to portray him as a hero to the disabled when he spent the whole of his life hiding his disability?

The supposed message of the statue is that we shouldn't let our disabilities keep us from aspiring to greatness. That's a fine message. But it really doesn't tell the true story of the man. The untold story is that, if we can successfully hide our disabilities, they won't get in the way of our aspiration to greatness. Whether or not that be the case today, it was certainly FDR's case.

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Postby piqaboo » Thu May 24, 2007 6:46 pm

shapley wrote:it really doesn't tell the true story of the man.

First you lobby for men on horses, 30 feet high, and now you want the true story of the man?
I be confused.
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Postby Shapley » Thu May 24, 2007 9:30 pm

I'm arguing that the supposed basis for showing the wheelchair was 'truth'.

A 30 ft. tall statue isn't meant to portray 'truth', it is meant to portray honour and respect.
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Postby piqaboo » Tue May 29, 2007 12:23 pm

Right then, a 30 ft statue in a wheelchair. Standing, that would put the man at ~ 40 ft tall. Enough ?
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Postby Shapley » Tue May 29, 2007 12:45 pm

I'm not sure how tall the statue of President Lincoln is inside the Lincoln Memorial, but he's a big figure, even seated. The monument is clearly monumental.

As I said, I'm no fan of FDR's policies, so it is probably best that his statue is smaller and less significant than those of greater presidents. Then again, I'm not that fond of some of President Lincoln's accomplishments, either. We honour Lincoln as the man who held the union together, and we honour him in a big way. We honour FDR in a smaller way, and that may or may not be fitting. I suppose it could be said that Lincoln was a humble man, and that erecting a towering statue in his honour was a much a slap in his face as putting FDR in a wheelchair, but I think the impact is entirely different.

Back to the Flight 93 memorial - The Weekly Standard had an excellent article on it:

The Memorials We Deserve

Flight 93 reminded us that America still produces heroes. Too bad we don't also produce worthy monuments for them.


I didn't realize that there was already a memorial there - a small fence, a cross, and a couple of flags - erected there by the nearby community, which is to be torn down under the new governmental design.

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Postby jamiebk » Tue May 29, 2007 1:42 pm

My up-bringing was probably a lot different than most folks...I grew up in a cemetery. That needs some explaining. My father was the general manager/superintendent of a very large memorial park in McKeesport PA. (Not all that far from Shanksville, actually). We lived just inside the cemetery grounds in a fine old house that was built in 1856 when the cemetery was established. I think I have some perspective on such places.

To me, the area where the plane went down is sacred ground (as is the WTC site). It is, in fact, the place where many (heros) died together. While no one is buried there, blood was spilled and the ground is very much like that of a cemetery. Sacred ground does not need monoliths or exagerated stone carvings to signify the sanctity or importance of the place. Nature reminds us of that. How many of us have walked into a towering redwood grove or been surrounded by high mountains and feel the presence of lost loved ones or even just the awe of life itself?

To me, simple is better, but that is just my opinion. Our heros are in our hearts and minds. I would like a place appropriate to reflect on that and honor them. I think that the memorial has accomplished that.
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Postby Selma in Sandy Eggo » Tue May 29, 2007 2:26 pm

jamiebk wrote:... Sacred ground does not need monoliths or exagerated stone carvings to signify the sanctity or importance of the place...To me, simple is better...

Concur.
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Postby Shapley » Tue May 29, 2007 2:57 pm

Simple is what they have - which the memorial committee seeks to replace with a $50+ million dollar fiasco of a memorial.

I've been to Shiloh, Tennessee and Vicksburg, Mississippi. Marble monuments star-scattered in the midst of fields and forests. Here a bloody battle, here an encampment, here a field hosptial once stood. Now a cold and quiet stone to remind of what took place. Walking the trails, you'll find an occassional monument lost in the middle of the woods, the path to it overtaken by nature. Quite lovely and peaceful, yet quite monumental.

I've also been to the Custer Battlefield National Monument, at least a large part of it, which is (or was at the time) an open hayfield. Other than the wooden sign on the rail fence where you entered, there was nothing there to tell you that you were in a monument or upon hallowed ground. I've been in cemeteries with towering monuments of stone, and in cemeteries with nothing but metal or stone placards ground level (so they can be mowed over, not around). The monuments are more solemn, like walking in a garden surrounded by angels and obelisks, trees and temples. The low placards seem to me more like walking in a minefield.

The site of the plane crash may be 'hallowed', but not 2200+ acres! That is an awful lot of hallowing for such a small group of heroes, about 55/acres per passenger.

Set aside an acre, or two, or ten, or forty. Put a stone marker in the center, with a tree-lined walk from the road, and some restrooms. Add some benches amidst the trees, and a fence around the marker where people can continue the tradition of leaving objects. And then move on. As the war on terror continues, more and more Americans will fall victim to the efforts of terrorists, at home or abroad. We can't afford 55 acres for each of them.

After choosing the Murdoch/Nelson Byrd Woltz design, the Flight 93 Advisory Commission set about justifying the project, compiling a 215-page draft of their General Management Plan and Environmental Impact Statement. The conceit of the report was that the commission was evaluating two options: leaving the temporary memorial as is, or building the new memorial. It is no scandal that the commission's report concluded that building the new memorial was preferred. But the justifications they used were revealing.

The costs of the two alternatives differed enormously, of course. The as-is option did not mean literally leaving the temporary memorial alone. It would have allocated $450,000 for building a small visitor's center, more parking, and improved access roads. It also would have spent $8 million to formally acquire the 657 acres of land immediately around the crash site (the other 1,605 acres would have been brokered through easements with owners). Since it would have been federalized, the National Park Service would have taken over stewardship from the county and spent $750,000 per year to operate the site.

The proposed new memorial was more expensive. In addition to the $44.7 million construction costs, land acquisition costs were estimated at $10 million and annual operating costs at $1 million.
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