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Flight 93 Memorial: Seeing Is Believing
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Credit: Zombie

Tons of you are stunned, outraged, and sickened by the new Flight 93 Memorial, the “Crescent of Embrace.” I called the architect responsible for the redesign, Paul Murdoch of Los Angeles, yesterday for comment. He did not return my call, but he did speak with the Johnstown, Pa., Tribune Democrat, as quoted in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette.

Neither Murdoch nor his supporters see any problem with the red crescent wrapped around the crash site near Shanksville, Pa., where 40 innocent people were murdered at the hands of Islamic terrorists:

“This is not about any religion per se,” Murdoch said in a telephone interview with the Tribune-Democrat in Johnstown. “It’s a spiritual space, and a sacred place, but it’s open to anyone.”

The word “crescent,” he said, was used as a generic architectural term for a curved line.

“Sure, there is an Islamic crescent,” Murdoch said. “Theirs is a lunar crescent. Ours isn’t based on that.”

Per se.

The Post Gazette attempts to marginalize and minimize critics:

Almost immediately upon seeing the design, online bloggers suggested that it is inappropriate to use a red crescent in the memorial.

To many, that shape represents Islam, and the symbol is used on the flags of several Muslim countries, including Turkey, Pakistan and Uzbekistan.

The four men who hijacked United Airlines Flight 93 on its way from Newark, N.J., to San Francisco were Muslim.

But the architects who created the winning design say their design has nothing to do with Islam.

The article states that family members of the Flight 93 victims do not find the crescent objectionable. And how’s this for fair and balanced: Five people who support the memorial are quoted, including one who calls the criticism bigoted, disgusting, and repellant. By comparison, only two opponents are quoted, including a “street evangelist” who is described as a “self-proclaimed bishop.”

So, the plan is dismiss those of us whose eyes are not blinded by political correctness as racist cranks with imaginations run wild. But we’re not the only ones objecting. The Tribune-Democrat article quotes a professor of Middle East studies and a local Muslim leader who see the obvious–and reports that jury members who chose the winning design were cognizant of the offensive overtones.

“Given the political ramifications, it’s not an apt name,” Professor Bernard Haykel said Friday, a day after a Somerset County street preacher declared he is considering filing for an injunction to stop the design.

“I could see a Muslim taking offense to this by saying this could be a slight to Islam. It could cut both ways.”

…In Islam, the crescent moon symbolizes the beginning and end of a calendar month. Crescents are prominent on mosques and are used on ambulances similar to red crosses in America.

“It is the symbol of ritual and religious life for Muslims,” Haykel said.

“The name (of the memorial) itself is not bad, but people can read into it all kinds of things.”

Murdoch has said the word is used generically in an architectural sense to describe the walkway around the bowl-shaped depression surrounding the plane’s point of impact. He maintains no religious implications were intended.

But even the second-stage jury that selected the design recommended changing its name to steer clear of religious overtones. Rather than crescent, the jury suggested using circle or arc of embrace instead.

Fouad El Bayly of Somerset, leader of the Islamic Center of Johnstown, has said Muslims immediately would recognize the symbolism in the design.

The crescent is a symbol of Islamic faith, El Bayly said.

“You pick something to be identified with,” he said.

The gentlemen at Junkyard Blog and an astute commenter at Captain’s Quarters cut through the architectural b.s., too. Rich at CQ writes:

This was not mere ham-fistedness. There is no group more attuned to symbolism and the “meaning” of structures than architects. It is their business to take drawings and, ultimately, wood, glass, and stone, and create meaning out of it. That this design is in some way accidental or coincidental is preposterous.

Bryan Preston at JYB cuts to the chase:

Look, this was almost surely conceived innocently by an idealistic liberal as symbolic of “peaceful Islam” healing and bonding with those slaughtered for Allah, but this shifty artiste doesn’t want to say that outright. He may think that’s a noble cause, but he would also think think CAIR has a noble cause. By not admitting any honest intent here, it raises the possibility that the mockery is intentional. It does almost feel like a big practical joke.

And a very sick one.


Reader Simon Tan writes:

Dear Michelle,

The winning design for the Flight 93 memorial ‘Crescent of Embrace’ is extravagant, wasteful and ultimately does not convey the spirit of the resistance and defiance of the passengers who made the ultimate sacrifice that their plane would not be used to attack their own countrymen. Surely that is the enduring legacy of the men and women of Flight 93, that there will be no surrender in the face of terrorism.

How would you stop this travesty of a memorial from blighting the Pennsylvania landscape? This is the intellectual masturbatory fantasy of an architect for the benefit of his peers.

I propose a single block of unfinished granite, representing the enduring and unvarnished legacy of Flight 93 with the immortal line, “Let’s Roll” hewn into it in 5’ high letters. A panel below should be smoothed and polished and the names of the fallen engraved there along with a description of their actions that day. In front of this would be a simple paved plaza with one flagpole facing the monument in their honour. Let the memorial be simple and straightforward, uncluttered by the baggage of others and with a clear and unambiguous message for all who would stand before it.

Ace and Allahpundit cheekily propose their own redesign.


Write the National Park Service, which must approve the final design here.

Call the Superintendent of the Flight 93 National Memorial at (814) 443-4557. Or fax (814) 443-2180.


Update: Mark S. says the NPS contact page isn’t working:

Thanks again for your and other bloggers efforts to spread the word about the design for the Flight 93 monument. I tried to send the following message to the National Park Service via the link provided from your site, but received a “URL not found” error–after several attempts–when I confirmed my e-mail address and tried to submit the message. So it looks like phone or fax are our best bets at this point.

(Republished from by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Ideology • Tags: CAIR, Flight 93