The public outpouring of grief on the streets of London and across England following the tragic death of Diana, Princess of Wales in August 1997 set a new benchmark in mass memorialisation.
Who can forget the sea of floral tributes outside the gates of Buckingham and Kensington Palaces, or Sir Elton John’s musical tribute to the Queen of Hearts at her funeral in Westminster Abbey.
Today, the iconic Tower of London, and the site from which the World Trade Centre twin towers once dominated the New York skyline, are both venues of mass memorialisation.
As we approach the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War, visitors to the Tower of London are being confronted by a river of red ceramic hand-made poppies that surround the British capital’s most famous landmark. By Armistice Day, 11th November this year, in what was once a water-filled moat, there will be 888,246 of these poppies in memory of British Commonwealth forces who gave their lives for King and country during that four year conflict. The poppies surrounding the Tower, (which was used for training during that so called ‘war to end all wars’) serve as a spectacular display and memorial, while offering visitors an opportunity for personal reflection.
Across the Atlantic tens of thousands of people every day gather at the September 11 Memorial and Museum in New York. Dominating the memorial are two massive one acre pools, referred to as the “footprints” of the World Trade Centre’s twin towers. Chiseled into the edges of both of the pools are the names of the almost three thousand who were killed in New York City, Pennsylvania and the Pentagon in Washington on September 11 2001 and in one of the most profound examples of just how personalised this commemoration has become, the 9/11 Memorial Organisation places roses upon victims names on their birthdates.
Overlooking the memorial pools, is the newly completed One World Trade Centre, an architectural masterpiece which at a cost of 3.9 Billion dollars climbs to 104 stories and at 1,776 feet (541 metres) is now the tallest building in the western hemisphere. Like the proverbial phoenix, One World Trade Centre has proudly and defiantly risen from the ashes of that horrific Tuesday thirteen years ago – a tangible monument that reflects the mission of The National September 11 Memorial & Museum at the World Trade Centre Foundation which states: May the lives remembered, the deeds recognized, and the spirit reawakened be eternal beacons, which reaffirm respect for life, strengthen our resolve to preserve freedom, and inspire an end to hatred, ignorance and intolerance.
Written by Michael Lynch – Tobin Brothers Funerals