*Johnstown Tribune-Democrat, July 27, 2008
Copyright © 2008 by Ralph Couey
Contextual Note: During the first half of 2008, a controversy developed over the sale of the last piece of land required for the construction of the permanent memorial to the passengers and crew of Flight 93 on 9/11. As the parties involved squabbled back and forth, public exasperation grew. This essay was an attempt to give voice to those feelings.
Many of us have watched, with no small amount of disgust, as the drama over the Flight 93 Memorial has played out on the airwaves and front pages of the region. What should have been a simple land purchase has taken on the drama of a soap opera. Both sides in the dispute have made pious proclamations to the rest of us through the media blaming each other for the apparent impasse. I'll not waste valuable column inches rehashing the issues here, except to voice my impression that nobody's being completely honest.
This is not terribly unique. We all remember the charges and counter-charges sailing through the air as New York City tried to reach a consensus on the design and execution of the memorial planned for Ground Zero. For some reason, these memorials have become focal points for clashing political views. The problem with that, of course, is through that process, the meaning and the point that lies behind the existence of such memorials becomes obscured, even tarnished.