Friday, September 08, 2006

Honoring the Dead by Keeping the Alive Awake

So about a week ago, I signed up to receive the "Arlington Alert," a system that sends out notifications of emergencies or other important developments in Arlington County. Yes, I feel pretty special living somewhere that is important enough to have an alert system. So, with the fifth anniversary of September 11 coming up, Arlington Alert has been especially busy. For instance, today I received an e-mail stating:

The Department of Defense, (DOD)will be beaming a white memorial light skyward in a vertical manner at the Pentagon on 2 successive full evenings from dark to dawn on September 10 and September 11th only during the hours of darkness.

Over the weekend DOD will be installing and testing the light beam so you may also see it then.

A memorial light? Beaming white light skyward for two nights in a row? I'm all for honoring those who perished in the attack on the Pentagon, but I don't know if keeping residents of nearby Pentagon City awake at night is the right way to do it. Who plans out this sort of thing anyway?


Chris said...

Ok, I have to take issue with your criticism because it really is quite petty. Firstly, very few people actually live around the Pentagon (those at Pentagon City, I imagine, would be used to bright lights from the mall as well as from the highways that goes past the Pentagon - and those are horizontally beamed lights too). Secondly, it's right near the airport, too, so most likely people are already unable to sleep because of air traffic. Additionally, my friends who live around there get woken up at sunrise anyway, because they hear the trumpets going off at Fort Myer. Your largest contingent of people, aside those beneath the earth at the cemetary, are the tourists and businessmen staying at the Crystal City hotels - and they have heavy curtains. I'm glad you care so deeply about the poor residents of Pentagon City, but you shouldn't let your prejudice against DoD get in the way of your reason.

Elaine said...

HA. You think it's my prejudice against DoD that causes me to criticize a memorial light? If my criticism was against the DoD, I would say it. I mean granted, our Secretary of Defense is terrible, but if I wanted to criticize him, I'd point out how he misled us into Iraq and led us into disaster. I just think a memorial light is stupid. It uses electricity (aren't you against government frivolity?), and it brightens the sky, which is annoying at night. It kind of reminds me of the recent Onion article, NYC Unveils 9/11 Memorial Hole. Frivolous memorials are what I am criticizing.

Chris said...
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Chris said...

So what would you suggest in its stead?

It seems that your opposition to the light is not that it's frivlous but more that it's an annoyance. Kind of like people who get annoyed at churches ringing their bells.

All I was addressing was your argument that it would keep people your post, that was your stated objection. As to its frivolity, I can see your point. One could argue any memorial is frivolous. By the way, I don't remember you objecting when they did it in New York...where they got the idea from, no doubt.

Elaine said...

Umm...I guess because I live in D.C. so it seemed more relevant to me to point that out rather than NYC?

But you're right, I have two reasons for not liking it: frivolity and lighting the sky. I guess I only named one at first.

Really, I'm not expressing my distate for the DoD leadership through my mocking of a memorial light, as much as you want it to be otherwise--apparently? I just think it's kind of silly. Like I said, when I want to criticize the DoD, I'll criticize them for something substantial. I mean, I could try and figure out who made the executive decision for a memorial light and criticize that person by name, but I just wanted to express my beef with it in general. I guess really I don't want to get into the politics of a memorial--there is enough going on, what with the plans for the former World Trade Center site--I just want to make fun of a memorial light that beams vertical rays into the night. My bad.

Chris said...

Honeslty, my comment about your distaste for DoD was just tongue-in-cheek. I did see pictures of the memorial whose lights were not all vertical, and it looked quite nice. I asked someone a bit more knowledgeable about these things and I was told it's an attempt, admittedly feeble, to connect earth and heaven - like a response to the sunlight we enjoy so much and which I miss, since there hasn't been any sun here since Saturday.