Today is the third and final roundtable the Times is running in conjunction with Sunday’s article about the making of the Sept. 11 museum, and it deals with the question of how to handle the unidentified human remains when there are such deep disagreements among the families of survivors. The panel includes Chip Colwell-Chanthaphonh, curator of anthropology at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science and an expert on the repatriation of Native American skeletal remains, who has consulted with some of the 9/11 families who oppose the museum’s plan; Thomas Lynch, a funeral director in Milford, Mich., and the author of several essay and poetry collections, including “The Undertaking: Life Studies From the Dismal Trade;” Charles G. Wolf, whose wife, Katherine, was killed at the World Trade Center, was a member of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation’s Families Advisory Council and participated in the conversation series sponsored by the Sept. 11 museum during the planning stages; and Patrick White, president of Families of Flight 93, which crashed in Shanksville, Pa. His cousin, Louis J. Nacke II, died on board that day.
Join the discussion.
In conjunction with the story I wrote about The National September 11 Memorial Museum, the Times is running online forums to discuss some of the thorniest issues. The museum’s staff and advisers have painstakingly combed through the mammoth collection of artifacts, audio recordings, videos and photographs in choosing what to display. Many items capture all too clearly the gruesome horror of that day and museum officials have been constantly forced to decide what is appropriate material for a museum exhibition and what might be too upsetting for visitors to see. We asked a group of museum professionals and trauma experts to discuss, by e-mail, how to get the message and history across accurately without being gratuitously shocking. Kari F. Watkins, director of the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum, started off the discussion. She has dealt with the same issues in her own institution, which commemorates the bombing of a federal office building by Timothy McVeigh, a white supremacist, that killed 168 children and adults on April 19, 1995. She has also frequently consulted with the staff of the Sept. 11 museum.
This week the New York Times is running a series of forums on the making of the 9/11 museum, which I wrote about in Sunday’s paper. Today, David Blight, a professor of history at Yale University, Wilfred McClay, a historian at the University of Tennessee in Chattanooga, Anthony Gardner, the director of a museum and the executive director of the September 11th Education Trust, and Bill Braniff, executive director of the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) based at the University of Maryland discuss: What do you think is essential for people to understand about the history leading up to Sept. 11?
Click on the forum and join the debate.
After spending a long time working on a story, it is always interesting to see readers’ reactions, and I was surprised by the variety of opinions and emotions expressed by hundreds of people writing in about the story on the making of the 9/11 museum at ground zero. For example:
“Scrap the expensive memorial. Build ten new schools with small museums in them, so the present and future students can see and learn;”
“think one should not mention anything about the attackers accept the blank black figure attached to the article and not even the country who did it otherwise you are doing them a favor , making them mortar and making their country more famous . That’s what they want.”
“The endless hand-wringing and conflict that has dominated every step of this museum’s creation tells a richer story than the museum itself. You want to know what kind of society we were on September 11, 2001? Look at how hard it was simply to rebuild Ground Zero and built a memorial and museum dedicated to what happened.”
“Is my tax money being used for a private memorial? This is all well and go I’d if it’s the “victims” cash. But if it’s tax money it’s spun wildly out of control.”
Read more here.