A Defending Crusader…

The best defense is to be good and offensive…or something like that.


Posted by Godefroi on June 23, 2008

An update on this post: I got a (non)reply from the Parks Service.

Dear Mr. White: [Form letter – I’m not Mr. White]

Thank you for your e mail of June 23, 2008, in which you expressed concerns
that the Flight 93 National Memorial treats the terrorists as victims.  The
National Park Service (NPS) is keenly aware of these concerns,  and took
steps in 2005 to investigate this issue. In doing so, the NPS consulted
with university and religious scholars, all of whom have concluded that the
memorial design does not imply or depict any religious iconography. In
light of those findings, the National Park Service and all three of its
partner organizations continue to support the final design for the Flight
93 memorial

You also had questions about “who broke the circle.”  The natural
topography of the site upon which the memorial sits is in the shape of a
bowl, or a circle.  This “circle of embrace” follows the geography, and
points your attention down to the Sacred Ground, the crash site where the
40 heroes of Flight 93 gave their lives combating the terrorists. The trees
surrounding this “circle of embrace” are missing, or broken, in two places;
first, where the flight path of the plane came overhead (which is the
location of the planned memorial overlook and visitor center) and second,
where the plane crashed at the Sacred Ground (depicted by a ceremonial gate
and pathway into the Sacred Ground).

Four organizations collaborated to organize and implement the process for
choosing a memorial design. The Families of Flight 93 is a nonprofit
organization of family members of the passengers and crew who died on the
flight. The Flight 93 Advisory Commission was created by Congress to
prepare “a report containing recommendations for the planning, design,
construction, and long-term management of a permanent memorial at the crash
site.” The Flight 93 Memorial Task Force serves as the Commission’s
operational arm and consists of approximately 80 to 90 members including
family members, community members, first responders, educators, and other
local, regional, and national stakeholders. The National Park Service is
the federal agency charged with administering Flight 93 National Memorial.

These four organizations agreed that an open design competition would be
the most inclusive, transparent and democratic way to explore a range of
designs for the memorial. The competition was open to design professionals,
as well as to the public, and was conducted in two stages with two separate
juries. The stage I jury analyzed approximately 1,000 submissions and
forwarded five finalist designs to the stage II jury. The five finalist
designs were exhibited for public comment in Somerset, Pennsylvania and on
the project website. The stage II jury, which was composed of noted design
professionals, family members and community leaders, reviewed the public
comments and evaluated the designs against the memorial’s mission
statement. By a majority, the stage II jury voted in favor of Mr. Murdoch’s
design and then, to reinforce their support of the design, took a second,
unanimous vote to support the design created by Mr. Murdoch.

After the winning design was announced, the NPS received some inquiries
from the public about what they perceived as Islamic symbolism in the
memorial design. While the architect, Mr. Murdoch, had not intended any
such symbolism in the design, he nonetheless refined certain aspects of the
design in response to the perceptions. The most prominent refinement was in
the treatment of the naturally occurring bowl-shaped landscape feature. The
design now surrounds that area with a circle of trees which is broken in
two places – the location which marks the flight path as it breaks the
circular continuity of the bowl edge, and the Sacred Ground where the crash

Please be assured that we are all committed to having a national memorial
that conveys the full honor due to the heroes of Flight 93, not to the
terrorists.. Our priority now is to move forward with the building of the
memorial, and to continue to commemorate those heroes who lost their lives
on September 11, 2001.

Enclosed for your information are several documents, which I hope will
additionally help to clear up this issue.  You may also find more in-depth
information on the park’s web site: www.nps.gov/flni.

Please feel free to contact me if you would like further information.
Thank you for your interest in our project and for your support of the
National Park Service.

(See attached file: Attachment 2 Chart of Facts Regarding the Memorial
Design.doc)(See attached file: Brieing Paper.doc)(See attached file:
Attachment 1 Advisory Commission Letter to Rawls Letter 8.8.07.doc)(See
attached file: family letter to tomtancredo.pdf)

Joanne M. Hanley, General Superintendent
National Parks of Western Pennsylvania
Allegheny Portage RR NHS, Flight 93 National Memorial, Fort Necessity
National Battlefield, Friendship Hill NHS, Johnstown Flood National
109 West Main Street, Somerset, PA 15501
office:  814.443.4557
fax: 814.443.2180

In other words – Nothing to see here…move along.

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