The rubble of the World Trade Center towers had not stopped smoldering before ideas began surfacing about how best to memorialize the destruction of September 11. Should the towers be rebuilt or replaced with some sort of memorial park? One proposal suggests installing a piece of artwork in the interim that would beam light straight up, replacing the original buildings with two towers of light and restoring the New York City skyline while recovery work continues. (Check it out at http://www.creativetime.org/towers/.)
Our favorite idea was to build five buildings--one tall central tower flanked by two smaller towers on either side--to shoot an architectural bird to terrorists. Rents in the top of the middle finger tower would have to be mighty cheap to attract tenants, one supposes.
More serious people understand that how September 11 is memorialized will have a great and lasting effect on how the nation and NYC recover emotionally and spiritually from the attack. Dallas, with its own history of something very bad and very public happening on November 22, 1963, is home to some of those people, and they're doing their part to help best remember 9-11. Loss and Renewal: Transforming Tragic Sites, is a new free exhibit at The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza that looks at how America commemorates tragedies, from presidential assassinations to Pearl Harbor, the Oklahoma City bombing and the murder of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
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With 62 photographs and 60 historic artifacts, including bloodstained items from Abraham Lincoln's theater box and debris from the USS Arizona, sunk at Pearl Harbor, the exhibit sounds like a morbid banquet, but it's more than that. Memorials such as The Sixth Floor Museum provide viewers a sense of perspective and a direct, personal connection to far-reaching tragedies.
"I think they're all places of reflection...just a way for people to get their minds around these events," says Sam Childers, director of marketing for the museum. Even today, nearly 40 years after the Kennedy assassination, Childers says he often sees patrons leaving The Sixth Floor with tears in their eyes, among them some who are too young to remember Kennedy's death. "It's an emotional thing."
As part of the exhibit, the museum will also collect visitors' opinions on how best to commemorate the sites in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania struck by the terrorist attacks.
The museum will be open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thanksgiving Day in honor of the 37th anniversary of Kennedy's assassination, which might be an especially good day to stop by and see the new exhibit--to give thanks for all the bad things that didn't happen and say "wish you were here" to the thousands who won't be celebrating with family and friends.