The World According to Nick
My take on Software, Technology, Politics, and anything else I feel like talking about.
Thursday, June 16, 2005

Time Heals All Wounds 

It's a very old saying... and not always true... but I think it's something we are too quick to forget sometimes. I'm referring to the latest controversy over the "International Freedom Center" which is set to be part of the memorial built into the new World Trade Center. The controversy is that it's going to talk about all sorts of things, not just 9/11... and create "a discussion about freedom". Exactly what will be discussed is the controversy. Some say it will bash Americans. Some say it will try to place the blame for 9/11 squarely on the shoulders of those who died, disrespecting their memory. Some people object to the amount of space being given to the IFC compared to the actual memorial.

I say we need to wait. Wait to build a memorial. Memorials are tricky things, and always the subject of controversy. One thing that helps to minimize that controversy is the amount of time we let pass between an event you wish to memorialize, and the memorial you build in it's honor. Time is something few people choose to invest in these days, so its no surprise we're waiting less than 5 years to build one in this case... but 5 years isn't that much time in the memorial business.

Washington Monument: Started on July 4, 1848. The capstone was finally set in Dec. 6, 1884. George Washington himself died in 1799. That means almost 50 years passed between his death, and the beginning of his memorial.

Jefferson Memorial: His memorial wasn't even started until 1943, more than 100 years after he died.

Vietnam Wall: The Wall was completed in 1982... only 7 years after the fall of Saigon. This was also one of the most bitterly fought over memorials in history... both for and against. As time has passed of course, people have come to see its symbolism. But time needed to pass for that to occur... and even then some still object to it. Perhaps there is a lesson there.

Korean War Memorial: Interestingly enough this memorial wasn't completed until 1995... after the Vietnam Wall was completed, even though this war came before. This is no surprise to the veterans of the "Forgotten War" of course... but it's still interesting to note. The war itself ended in 1953... meaning more than 40 years passed before it was memorialized.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial: His memorial wasn't completed until 1997, more than 50 years after his passing. Interestingly, he was first memorialized, according to his personal wishes, by a simple granite block with his name on it and no ornamentation in front of the National Archive in the 60's. Though his new memorial is spectacular, I also find it a little sad that his own wishes were brushed aside by so many.

USS Arizona Memorial: The memorial at Pearl Harbor was dedicated in 1962. That's 20 years after the attack that sunk that mighty ship... 20 years after the sneak attack that plunged us into a world war. I find this one most striking, as it's most easily comparable to 9/11.

You see... it takes time to properly memorialize events and people. Part of that time is to see the real impact on history. While the immediate impact of 9/11 is obvious, much has yet to be seen. While that shouldn't preclude us from memorializing the lives lost in that horrible event now... it should stop us from anything coming close to the IFC, which attempts to go much further than just recognizing those who died in that attack. That time is also helpful to let politics and emotions calm down. While they will never be out of the picture completely, hopefully with time they will be to the point where compromise and respect are the orders of the day... which is what the dead deserve.


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Name: Nick
Home: Wauwatosa, WI, United States

I'm a Software Consultant in the Milwaukee area. Among various geeky pursuits, I'm also an amateur triathlete, and enjoy rock climbing. I also like to think I'm a political pundit.

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