memorials to the events of 9/11 -- article: shrines serve the need for healing
Shrines Serve the Need for Healing
October 6, 2001
New York Times
(301 words excerpted)
By Gustav Niehbuhr
Since shortly after the terrorist attacks that destroyed the World Trade Center, New Yorkers have been creating impromptu shrines, memorializing the victims. People have placed photographs of the dead and missing, together with flowers and American flags, in many places including the walls in Grand Central Terminal, Pennsylvania Station and the 42nd Street subway stop, some of the city's most heavily traveled junctions.
Often, the memorials draw clusters of people, commuters who have broken out of their rush to pause in silence and reflect on lives lost on Sept. 11.
In the opinion of Stephen P Huyler, these shrines mean that small portions of ordinary public space have become set apart, and sanctified, by what people have placed there. Such "sacred spaces," he said, "bring healing, allowing us to bridge our grief or find a form of solace, to be quiet at a time of turmoil."
Dr. Huyler is a cultural anthropologist who specializes in India and travels there yearly from Maine, where he lives. He has visited New York frequently before and since the terrorist attacks. . .
"I think a shrine is a place whose sole purpose is to honor the sacred, whatever the sacred is to that individual," he said. "Often shrines are simply collections of things personal" to those who create them. . .
In India, the variety of these shrines shows that there is no single, "right" way to approach the divine, that it is an individual matter, he said. . .
In India, he said, shrines can be, and are, created anywhere. They appear in many places, especially in the wake of disasters, natural or otherwise. Making shrines, he said, "it's something that's natural - it comes from deep within. It's an archetypal need of mankind to create sacred space at times of great need."