Memory to Memorial

How do we preserve and honor tragedy?

From Memory to Memorial: Shanksville, America, and Flight 93

Thompson, J. William. Pennsylvania State, 2017
181p bibl index, 9780271076997 $19.95, 9780271078991

From Memory to Memorial: Shanksville, America, and Flight 93 book cover. Man standing with sign that reads "I did not forget."

Thompson, well-versed in architectural theory and the design of parks and landscapes, engages reactions to the crash of Flight 93 in the context of the 9/11 terrorist attack and aftermath for the local community of Shanksville, PA; the families of the victims; and the nation. The powerful personal evaluation shows “the way disaster memorials in public landscapes increasingly reflected the tide of mass killings in this country.” Thompson presents basic facts about the crash, contextualized in the general theory of the role of constructed memory and monuments as pursued by three questions: why was the memorial delayed for a decade? What was the appropriate memorial for a 21st-century tragedy? What was the effect on Shanksville of the memory of this tragedy? The answers are pursued in eight appropriately illustrated, footnoted, and referenced chapters that refer to personal recollections, appropriate theory, and, of much relevance to current events, political reactions. Thompson describes how heroic columns and figures for the final Memorial Plaza were rejected in favor of abstract minimalism, providing insight into human psychology, public controversy, theory of memory, the role of media, and national politics. Should be widely read by the public, scholars, and professionals for its scholarship and sensitive insights into a current issue.

Summing Up: Essential. Public libraries; upper-division undergraduates and above.
Reviewer: B. Osborne, Queen’s University at Kingston
Subject: Social & Behavioral Sciences – History, Geography & Area Studies – North America
Choice Issue: Jul 2017