Rosa Eberly, an academic from UT Austin, wrote about the sniper shooting that took place at UT in 1966 in the article,”Everywhere You Go, it’s There”. Eberly uses the UT shooting to look at how events are memorialized. She argues that it is important to not repress difficult memories. Memories may be individual, but they are also cultural, and if not talked about they may be forgotten. Memorials allow for  public places where people can share their memories. Eberly’s article makes me think about ways 9/11 has been memorialized. It is a difficult memory for many people, but instead of trying to forget, beautiful memorials were built.

The UT tower

On August 1, 1966, a man named Charles Whitman went to the top of the tower at the center of campus and shot at the people below for over an hour. Fourteen people were killed and thirty-one people were injured. Eberly utilizes her article to describe how the shooting has been memorialized. After the shooting, UT refused to really embrace what happened. They only wrote a small article about the tragedy on their website, and they did not let people back into the tower for some time. Because of this, Eberly states that “fewer and fewer students know about the shootings every year and within two or three decades few people will be alive with individual memories of the event” (77).  Memorials create a space where the memories of what happened can be kept alive. Because there was no memorial for people to grieve at, “the memories of individuals had and have no place to go other than local talk radio – or coffeehouse tables and graffiti at the top of the Tower stairs” (68). To give a place for students’ memories to go, Eberly created class called “Rhetoric 330E: The UT Tower Shooting and Public Memory”. This class became a space where students could come and talk freely about the event. A topic within this class was whether a memorial should be built. Many students worried that building a memorial would just glorify Whitman, the shooter, instead of being used to remember the victims. How a memorial is created influences what will be remembered about an event. The 9/11 memorial at the Pentagon does an excellent job of creating a space for the memories of the victims, instead of the hijackers.

The Pentagon 9/11 memorial is a memorial dedicated to the 184 victims of the 9/11 attack. It opened on September 11, 2008 and was designed by Julie Beckman and Keith Kaseman, whose design selected out of a pool of over one thousand submissions. There are benches for each victim that people can come and sit on to remember. Each bench also has the name of the victim who was lost on it. The benches facing the Pentagon are for those who were working in the Pentagon, and the ones facing away are for those who were on the plane. They are sorted by age, with the youngest being three and the oldest being seventy-one.

The 9/11 memorial relates to Eberly’s article because it is an example of how memorials can be used to give people a place to reflect and discuss their memories. 9/11 is a culturally shared memory, and having a public place for people to come and reflect is necessary because it is a way of accepting that it happened, instead of what UT did by trying to put it in the past and move on from the shooting. By not memorializing something, it becomes sort of a taboo topic, and people are then forced to grieve internally. Eberly and her class were fearful that if a memorial wasn’t built carefully, the wrong idea would be memorialized. The Pentagon memorial though, was built in a way that shapes a controlled public memory of 9/11, keeping the focus solely on the victims instead of remembering the hijackers. It is a memorial that ensures that those who were lost will never be forgotten.

 

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