History

Feuding Over the Flight 93 Memorial

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The complications of memory, history, and property: Mike Svonavec, the owner of the field where Flight 93 crashed, puts up a collection box to, he says, help defray costs of security for the site. It will soon by a national memorial, and the Park Service already has a use agreement with Svonavec. A Park Service spokesperson says that agreement gives them "exclusive use and control of the site."

The Park Service has thus covered up the box and insists the property owner remove it. Svonavec says he won't move the box; volunteer tour guides at the site say some well-meaning donors don't realize the money they drop in is going to the owner personally.

Fox News on the whole convoluted story of this ground which the Park Service has so far failed to fully dedicate, consecrate, or hallow. Svonavec is reportedly willing to allow them to for a final sales price of $10 million. The naive Svonavec (who denies $10 million is his selling point to get rid of the role in U.S. tragi-history that dropped from the skies and into his proverbial lap) says of the Park Service's move: "It's just unbelievable to my mind that that's the direction they would take, taking control of the property."

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  1. I honestly have no idea how to feel about this, but I can say that for a federal memorial, $10 million seems pretty cheap for such a huge and important piece of land.

    I’d, of course, prefer that there were no Park Service memorial there. Funny how The Wall didn’t need to be put in Vietnam, but fit nicely in Washington, D.C. Make a 9/11 memorial there.

  2. This sounds like the premise of a William Gaddis novel.

  3. Jf-

    I think all new monuments for DC have been banned now due to space reasons.

  4. Pfft. Just demolish the FDR memorial. I will personally help pull down his statue, and a bunch of us will run up and beat his head with our shoes, Baghdad style.

  5. I hate that memorial. It’s just a bunch of bronze hobos and waterfalls.

  6. If the NPS pays up, there are just going to be thousands of people instructing terrorists to crash passenger airliners in their fields.

  7. But in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot concencrate , we cannot hollow this groud. The brave men living and dead who struggled here have concencrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note nor long remember what we say here but IT CAN never forget what they did here.

    Or something like that, anyway.

  8. Nobody is going to forget let’s roll regardless of what happens to that field of nightmares.

  9. What creeps me out about this the most is this Cult of 9/11 obsession that even makes this story possible. I’d have to say that visiting the site of a plane crash, regardless of the circumstances, is about the last thing on my mind. Seriously, is visiting a cornfield in Pittsburgh something you’d consider doing for your vacation? And the Park District wants to spend taxpayer dollars to put a memorial here?

    I’d have to say my sympathies are with the property owner here, based on the nuisance factor alone, along with the suspicion that his claims that the Park District has taken a mile after having been given an inch are probably true. (A government agency usurping someone’s property rights? Say it ain’t so, Joe!)

    As for the Families of Flight 93, I think it’s high time they just shut up. Since when does having a relative die on somebody’s property give you any input into how the owner uses that property? If they don’t like how he’s using the property, let them take up a collection and buy him out. Short of that, I don’t see where he owes them the time of day. Put up or shut up, already!

  10. That’s funny, I think about that “Let’s Roll!” guy the way some people think about Jesus. Instead of how they say “What would Jesus do?”, I think “What would Let’s Roll guy do?”. I liked the sound of that guy. I wonder if, in this case, he’d be impatient with all the pettifogging.

    The owner should be bought out clean and clear, and not at pennies on the dollar, if they are going to put a memorial there. And they might as well put a memorial there, because people are going to make the pilgrimage to the site whether it’s an official memorial or not.

  11. Is this the memorial that’s arranged like an Islamic crescent? If so they should shut the project down immediately.

  12. I strongly recommend that anyone who can go visit the Flight 93 area in Shanksville now, before the NPS does whatever it ends up doing with it. The “temporary” memorial that exists now consists of the heart-felt efforts of people from around the world to remember the events of that day, and is far more powerful than mere marble monument designed by committee could ever be.

    It even brought a tear to the eyes of this heartless, curmudgeonly libertarian.

  13. What creeps me out about this the most is this Cult of 9/11 obsession that even makes this story possible. I’d have to say that visiting the site of a plane crash, regardless of the circumstances, is about the last thing on my mind. Seriously, is visiting a cornfield in Pittsburgh something you’d consider doing for your vacation? And the Park District wants to spend taxpayer dollars to put a memorial here?

    I agree on this one. We have a strange desire to keep remembering tragic events. No wonder so many of us are depressed, we can’t go a day without being reminded of bad things that happened in the past.

  14. We have a cult of 9/11 for a lot of reasons. Part of it is the trauma, but part of it is also that there are people who have used 9/11 to get what they want, and so they can’t afford to let us forget.

    In all fairness, Flight 93 wasn’t just a tragedy, it was also a grim victory. It was when hijacking stopped working, it sent a message that subsequent airline passengers have not forgotten (demonstrated when they subdued Richard Reid, although they have admittedly gone overboard a few other times), and so it’s a bit more memorial-worthy than other airplane crashes.

  15. $10 million seems pretty cheap for such a huge and important piece of land.

    I doubt there’s any land in Somerset county worth anything close to 1/10th that price, even with improved buildings on it. This guy seems to be asking for more than the market price (although it’s hard to know for sure because there’s few other pieces of real estate made famous by historic plane crashes).

  16. If we could make a libertarian business case study of this enterprise, and use it in the public schools as an illustration of the folly, wastefulness and incompetence of government, it might eventually be a justifiable expense. But that won’t happen.
    What will eventually result, rather than a recognition of the independent actions of private citizens, will be some sort of nannyist fairytale of how we must more fully surrender ourselves to the protection and supervision of the government, because the government can shield the civilian population from any and all threats, however extraordinary or unlikely.

  17. They will never put much of a permanent monument there. The story only seems “convoluted” if you think the Park Service really wants to do anything fancy there, like build a fancy building. It is no accident that they are only leasing the land. It could go worthless in a hurry.

  18. The phrase that came to mind while reading this article is “Lay down with dogs, wake up with fleas.” Don’t go into business with the government to profit off of tragedy, then get upset when the government decides that no, no, they’re actually running the show.

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