September 09, 2005

Flight 93 Memorial

The memorial for Flight 93, the one that crashed in Pennsylvania en route to DC, is called the Crescent of Embrace. You can guess why:

In case you didn't know, the Crescent is essentially the symbol for Islam in the same way the Cross and the six-pointed Star are symbols for Christianity and Judaism, respectively. In Muslim countries, the Red Cross is called the Red Crescent. I would not say it's appropriate to mark the graves of these dead with a memorial that's shaped like a symbols that the terrorists (as well as many others) worshipped. Maybe including the crescent alongisde symbols of all religions would be a way to do a sort of holding-hands type thing, but otherwise it's not what we should be shooting for.

Maybe it was a coincidence and the architect didn't realize that the crescent is a symbol of the killers (as well as the symbol of many victims of terrorism) and that standing alone it seems to send a pretty startling message. After all, the crescent is a pretty basic geometric shape, just like a six-pointed star is (many-pointed stars are common in Arabic architecture for their mathematical and visual properties, and would suggest no affiliation with Jews). The red for the maple trees that form the crescent could be explained as chosen for their striking color. Still, it's a big frickin' red crescent laid out around the site where 40 passengers and crew were killed for people that worshipped in the name of the Red Crescent.

Whatever the reason, I think it would be a good idea to change the memorial to something with different symbolism. Maybe they could complete the crescent into a circle and use many different colors of trees.

I followed Charles Johnson's link to the Forest Service to comment. When I tried to send it in, it said the requested URL was not found on this server. So I guess they disabled it or it doesn't appear or something. Anyway, here's what I said:

"I am concerned that the shape of the memorial for the 40 souls lost in Flight 93 has unintended symbolism. The choices of a crescent and red trees, though each innocent enough, means that the memorial will be a red crescent. The international symbol of Islam is a crescent, and red is often associated with it (as in the Tunisian flag, or the Red Cross-affiliated Red Crescent organization). Leaving to one side the vast majority of Muslims that wished no ill will toward those lost, a red crescent is still a symbol that the terrorists would have identified with. Perhaps a full circle with many different colored trees would be a less controversial memorial that's no less effective in commemorating the lost."


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