9/11 Memorials Essay

767 words - 3 pages

Although documentary evidence is more factual and objective than memory, it is devoid of personal experience. Hence personal history, although more subjective, is also more inclusive of its effect on the individual. This symbiosis is evident in the website, September 11: Bearing Witness to History, The Smithsonian Museum, is deemed “America’s national education facility”, placing value on facts and evidence. Conversely, it is also an American institution that values ideas and beliefs that guide their country. Therefore, their representation of this defining moment is subjective but crucial to Americans and others affected by this act of terror. In the short film 11’09’01 September 11, Samira Makhmalbaf represents a perspective on the events, setting her film in a refugee camp for Afghan refugees in Iran. Iran had recently been named as part of the “Axis of Evil” by George Bush, which is challenged in the film by the interactions between children and their teacher.

Together, both documentary evidence and personal history produce emotive and often unanticipated awareness of facts, as evident in Smithsonian website, a digital memorial that includes a collection of objects linked to the events of September 11 and the combined American experience. The collection contains a selection of photographs including “World Trade Centre Aluminum” which is contextualised in the imagery, “Tallest building in the world… gleaming exterior… golden sheen”. This contextualisation heightens the significance of the towers and propels the World Trade Centre into the realm of myth, through its extraordinary description. The curator’s comment “it stripped off and folded like wrapping paper” utilises simile to evoke a sense of fragility and vulnerability in the American people, as a result of the destruction of this iconic, almost mythic monument. The personification “twisting, wrenching and tortured steel” is symbolic of the pain and torture, not only to individuals, but to American society. This representation of the towers distils a history of an event that has caused nationwide devastation through the destruction of such an iconic figure of wealth, business and capitalism.

Unlike the Smithsonian website memorial, 11’09’01 September 11 challenges the post September 11 viewer to remember that Iranian societies are comprised of ordinary, uneducated people with simplistic understandings of the world, who are not all religiously motivated jihadists. The motif of innocence, evident in the children in...

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