Boston's Logan Airport Dedicates 9/11 Memorial


On September 9, Logan International Airport officially opened and dedicated a $3.5 million memorial honoring those who perished on 9/11, specifically the 147 victims of American Flight 11 and United Flight 175, both of which took off from Boston. The memorial has been received positively overall, though some, including family members of those who perished, are disappointed. I decided to pay a visit and see for myself.

The memorial sits on two and a half acres nestled among Logan's tangled network of service roads and ramps. In most cases, a person's first glimpse will come while driving into the airport. Access to the monument is easiest from Terminal A, though you have to traverse an elevated pedestrian walkway and go down the stairs of a parking garage to reach the entrance.

At the entry, you choose one of two winding paths, both of which culminate at a large glass cube. The cube itself is simple, understated, made of greenish glass and bright steel. Within the cube are two tall, rectangular plaques—reminiscent of the twin towers—made from smoky green glass, each of which lists the victims and departure time of one of the two flights. Above, square pieces of glass are strung along wires like paper lanterns, creating an ethereal false ceiling of sky and glass meant to evoke falling shards of debris at Ground Zero.

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Standing there, I was struck by the minimalist beauty of the memorial itself, but more so by its proximity to the busy roads and concrete buildings surrounding it. The memorial is no more than 10 yards from one of Logan's main access roads, and sits in the shadow of a large parking garage and an even larger Hilton hotel, not to mention the pedestrian bridge back to Terminal A. Understandably, some have questioned placing the memorial in such an unceremonious location, while others wondered if doing so was disrespectful given the pain of friends and family left behind and the horror endured by those it seeks to memorialize. There is noise all around, from cars and trucks whizzing by and planes roaring into the sky overhead, and all this sound reverberates inside the glass cube like wind in a seashell.

However, I would suggest that what makes the memorial poignant is precisely its location. In the midst of such clamor, the memorial asserts itself more than it would were it situated apart from the comings and goings of the airport. Rather than overwhelm the site, the airport seems to revolve around it, both figuratively and literally, as cars, people, and planes pass by in a never-ending blur.

And that last point is, I think, the point, because the memorial ultimately stands as a signal to the passengers, pilots, flight attendants, and airport employees at Logan that life goes on. And so upon seeing the memorial we reserve a moment to acknowledge those who were lost, we set aside a space in our hearts to grieve, and then, seven years later, we return to the air once again.

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