Don’t Take Flight 93 To Mecca 2-2009

Mother of Flight 93 hero calls for “a full and transparent review” of the crescent-shaped memorial

For two years, Tom Burnett Sr. has been speaking out against the crescent-shaped memorial to Flight 93. This week Beverly Burnett (mother of Flight 93 hero Tom Burnett Jr.) stepped into the public eye to support her husband, and to make her own appeal for a full investigation:

Today, I am adding my voice for a full and transparent review of the National Park Service and Flight 93 design selection process that produced Crescent of Embrace. Does it have Islamic symbols or doesn’t it? Let’s settle this once and for all.

Why do you think Tom Sr. opposed this design? It is pretty simple; Tom Sr. saw the Islamic symbols and knew those symbols did not belong at the crash site of Flight 93.

Tom Burnett Sr. traveled to Pennsylvania last August to attend the Task Force Meeting to voice his opposition to the memorial design. A Family Board member as well as a commissioner accused Tom Sr. being “just like the Islamic terrorists” that killed our son.

Why didn’t someone speak up and defend Tom Sr.’s right to voice his opinion?

Thanks to The Somerset Daily American for publishing Mrs. Burnett’s complete statement, which she also entered into the record of the most recent Memorial Project meeting. Read the whole thing.

Two other mentions of the memorial controversy in the local PA press this week

Blogburst logo, petition

In a letter to the editor, a local woman echoed Mrs. Burnett’s sentiment in favor of preserving the site as it is, instead of demolishing the highly regarded Temporary Memorial and radically transforming the landscape, as the Memorial Project intends.

At present the Temporary Memorial looks down over the “field of honor.” Because this temporary memorial is located roughly in the center of the planned half-mile wide crescent, it will be eliminated. Visitors who stand at the location of the Temporary Memorial will no longer look out over the original landscape, but will instead see the crash-site framed between the pincer tips of the giant Islamic-shaped crescent.

They call the crescent a broken circle now, but the unbroken part of the circle, what symbolically remains standing in the wake of 9/11 (originally called the Crescent of Embrace) remains completely unchanged.

Nice words from a local columnist, but no fact-checking

In the area’s second local paper, The Johnstown Tribune-Democrat, columnist Ralph Couey offers a very nice tribute to the heroes of Flight 93 in which he mentions Mr. Burnett’s opposition to the planned memorial. Unfortunately, Mr. Couey goes on to describes Mr. Burnett’s opposition as “hopeless intransigence,” and expresses his optimism that it can be gotten past.

Given that newspapers are supposed to get to the truth, one would hope that those who gain the privilege of this public platform would bother to check the facts. If Mr. Burnett is correct in his warnings about Islamic symbolism, then finding a way to get past these objections is like finding a way to sneak a hijacker past gate security. It is a bad thing, not a good thing.

The petition that Mr. Burnett sponsored along with our blogburst group lists four damning facts about the approved design that can all be verified in a matter of minutes. Can Mr. Couey check just one: that a person standing between the tips of the giant crescent and facing into the center of the crescent will be facing within 2° of Mecca?

QiblaOverlaidOnCrescent,400px

The Muslim prayer direction in this animation (qibla) is from the Mecca-direction calculator at Islam.com. (If you have trouble getting their calculator to work–your Java has to be configured correctly–there is another Mecca direction calculator at QiblaLocator.com.)

This Mecca-orientation makes the giant crescent a mihrab, the Mecca-direction indicator around which every mosque is built. Does Mr. Couey really want to see the world’s largest mosque planted on the Flight 93 crash site? It is fine to speak highly of the heroes of Flight 93, but it would be a lot more meaningful if he would honor the Burnett’s urgent appeal for fact-checking by stepping over to a globe and checking this one simple factual claim.

Mr. Couey is not the only one who wants the crescent controversy to go away without caring to know the truth. Sorry, but that is insufficient. Planting a giant Mecca-oriented crescent on the crash-site will dishonor the heroes of Flight 93, and it fails to follow their example. They didn’t just have good intentions. They got the job done, and we have to get the job done too. We can’t be asleep at the wheel while an al Qaeda sympathizing architect hijacks our memorial.

What? Is it just too outlandish to think that the enemy might try to hijack one of our memorials? The same way that it is just too outlandish to think that the enemy might dare to hijack our commercial airliners? Do these people even know what they are memorializing?

But they CAN wake up. All they have to do is actually check the facts. Then they will know. So please Mr. Couey, take the time to check a few facts, then write a second column, reporting your findings. Somebody out there in Somerset needs to start telling the truth. It might as well be you.

Big Dog

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One Response to “Don’t Take Flight 93 To Mecca 2-2009”

  1. Victoria says:

    Unfortunately, Mr. Couey goes on to describes Mr. Burnett’s opposition as “hopeless intransigence,” and expresses his optimism that it can be gotten past.

    I bet Mr. Couey didn’t lose anyone in that flight. He must be a liberal. You know–the whole one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.