Mawkish media drives a frenzy of memorials

AWAY FROM the main set-piece ceremonies, away from ground zero and the Pentagon and that lonely field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, just about every community across America is organising its own commemoration of the 11 September attacks.

Whether it is in small-town ceremonies, or in schools or churches, or in moments of silence snatched in offices and on shopfloors, almost everyone in America will be marking tomorrow with some acknowledgement to the victims of the country's worst peacetime atrocity.

Many events will be carefully thought out and genuinely heartfelt, despite the overwhelmingly bombastic, mawkish, self-serving tone of the 24-hour rolling media machine. Marking the anniversary on such a scale is extraordinary, and almost impossible to explain without the impetus from the television networks. Nothing remotely on this scale took place on 7 December 1942, first anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

"Is it all overkill? Of course it is," the television critic of The San Francisco Chronicle, Tim Goodman, wrote yesterday, arguing the case for the singular influence of the small screen on the way the country has responded to the atrocities, one year on.

The driving lead being taken by the networks has left many local organisers disoriented. Many people have sounded uncertain, half-wondering why the anniversary should have taken on quite the proportions it has.

At one elementary school in the Los Angeles area, for example, the parent-teacher association is organising an evening memorial event it hopes will be "brief and moving". The organisers are still not sure what form it will take, or if parents will turn up.

There will be no lack of eye-catching initiatives. Dozens of cities will participate in the "rolling requiem", a worldwide effort to perform Mozart's Requiem and observe a minute's silence in each of the 25 time zones, in each case at 8.46am local time, the moment the first hijacked plane hit the World Trade Centre.

In Freeport, Maine, two women who have stood on Main Street waving the American flag every Tuesday morning since last September hope to be joined by hundreds of fellow townsfolk. In Seattle, the museum of flying will arrange 1,400 volunteers into a "human flag" that will wave silently in homage to the dead. In New York, an Oklahoma man will arrive at ground zero on a horse.

On a smaller scale, children will be invited to dress in red, white and blue for the day. Many people who hung flags on their houses or their cars a year ago will be doing the same tomorrow. Some people have talked of dipping their headlights at 8.46am. But these events will in some measure also be media moments, attempts to capture public attention as much as they are an expression of private sorrows.

Even where the atrocities of last year hit close to home, the compulsion to transform personal bereavement into a media event has been stunning. Lisa Beamer, the attractive blond widow of a passenger who died when United Airlines flight 93 crashed in Pennsylvania, has been praised over and over for her courage and her selflessness in setting up a foundation in her late husband's name to help children recover from bad accidents.

But her husband Todd's celebrated call to action, "Let's Roll!", has also become a slogan merchandised on T-shirts and baseball caps. She has a book to sell and does the rounds of the national talk shows. Her website, beamerfoundation.org, is plugging the compilation pop album Let's Roll: Together In Unity, Faith And Hope produced in Nash-ville, home of country music.

Many Americans have expressed a weariness, even disgust, with the media-driven obsession with the anniversary. That does not mean they will not participate in the commemorations, but it does mean they will retain a certain scepticism towards them.

As Frank Megna, a Los Angeles theatre producer, put it this week: "The 9/11 victims think they are getting closer to the truth by baring it all, but what we are seeing is a distortion of what they are actually experiencing. It's really more like a farce."

Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
Sport
The Pipes and Drums of The Scottish Regiments perform during the Opening Ceremony for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park on July 23, 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland.
Commonwealth GamesThe actor encouraged the one billion viewers of the event to donate to the children's charity
Sport
Karen Dunbar performs
Entertainers showcase local wit, talent and irrepressible spirit
Sport
Members of the Scotland deleagtion walk past during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on July 23, 2014.
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
film
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
News
Very tasty: Vladimir Putin dining alone, perhaps sensibly
news
Life and Style
Listen here: Apple EarPods offer an alternative
techAre custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?
Arts and Entertainment
Top guns: Cole advised the makers of Second World War film Fury, starring Brad Pitt
filmLt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a uniform
News
The University of California study monitored the reaction of 36 dogs
sciencePets' range of emotions revealed
News
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
News
Joining forces: young British men feature in an Isis video in which they urge Islamists in the West to join them in Iraq and Syria
newsWill the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?
Arts and Entertainment
The nomination of 'The Wake' by Paul Kingsnorth has caused a stir
books
News
i100
Life and Style
food + drinkZebra meat is exotic and lean - but does it taste good?
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

BI Manager - £50,000

£49000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client is...

BI Project Manager - £48,000 - £54,000 - Midlands

£48000 - £54000 per annum + Benefits package: Progressive Recruitment: My clie...

VB.Net Developer

£35000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: If you're pa...

SAP Business Consultant (SD, MM and FICO), £55,000, Wakefield

£45000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP Business...

Day In a Page

Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

Farewell, my lovely

Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
The 10 best pedicure products

Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

Commonwealth Games 2014

Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism
How Terry Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

How Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

Over a hundred rugby league players have contacted clinic to deal with mental challenges of game