Remember, Honor, Renew…and Imagine.

September 11, 2008 at 10:58 pm

As an airline employee  I’ve flown now on numerous 9/11 anniversaries, including today, returning from Orlando this morning from visiting my beautiful  daughter, Anjuli.   Days after this other day which will also live on in infamy, we were given lapel pins which read “Remember, Honor, Renew” and I’ve worn it ever since on my uniform in remembrance.  You can’t help but Remember the horrific events of September, 11, 2001 – the panic, the disbelief, the heroic actions of so many, the souls lost, the families separated within this lifetime, and also the rather selfish line of  “Where were you on this date?” which people love to go on about.

So today on Patriot Day here in the Untied States we Honor the people from around the world whose lives were lost on U.S. soil here in New York, Washington, D.C.  and Pennsylvannia  because of what, obvious acts of aggression and extreme violence which equate to social/psychological/political intolerance? religious fanaticism? or perceived meritorious acts of moral justice or superiority?   Maybe also a combination of these  and ideals from a  certain small but albeit powerful faction of Muslim separatism, an extreme type of eco-centrism, and a belief that these terrorist acts are selfless,  divine, and which according to these fanatics  result in the extinction of evil and the promotion of greater good?   I recently read about “The Romantic Ideal”  pertaining to The Holy War, which on one website states,

“Muslims emphatically insist that the Jihad, or Holy War, was only a means of defence and was never used as an offensive act…”

I don’t pretend to know much about it, but I do know that many Muslims were dismayed and appalled at these actions.   Read much more on the war on behalf of Islam.

We also need to Honor everyone who reacted immediately with selfless acts – specifically the brave firefighters, police, and unnamed civilian heroes, and afterwards  also to those of all races, creeds and nationalities who spoke against these inhumane actions – thank you!

So how about Renew part?   Let’s continue the healing process to renew our faith in human beings –  as neighbors carpooling each other’s kids to individuals influencing our local and national political candidates – to ourselves as citizens of the world.    If we understand that we all live on one Earth, we can extend this  committment to renewing our stewardship of our own planet – I mean, if we’re going to renew something, there’s nothing more sustainable for the long term than “live locally, act globally!”

When I put my pin on this morning it occurred to me, as a former student of landscape architecture back in the late 90’s and now as an ecological designer of greenroofs and green walls, that “Remember, Honor, Renew” is also a great philosophy in terms of environmental design.   We are taught to look at a site’s history, both physical and cultural, to determine the “genius loci” or spirit of place as a basis of design.   So from this perspective we can create a spiritual connection to the past in addition to promoting a renewal of ideals and ecological principles for the future, and really express the true nature of a site.

But the Imagine piece of the equation came to me from a rather personal perspective, but one that fits this new amended motto of “Remember, Honor, Renew…and Imagine.”   Our oldest son, Joey, celebrated his first anniversary with his wife, Korinne, in late July, and he picked out John Lennon’s “Imagine” as our wedding song together as mother and son – talk about a tear jerker!   It seemed the perfect fit for my firstborn who has grown into a young creative man with high ideals, so why not for the more jaded of us, too:

“Imagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today…Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace…You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will be as one
Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world…

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will live as one” ~ John Lennon, 1971

Unrealistic utopia?   Can we truly live as one?   Could we ever live without possessions?   I doubt it – who knows.   But the sentiment is real and  parents pass on their beliefs and dreams for the future to their children, and we as designers  also have the  responsibility to pass on this type of holistic thinking to our clients and colleagues, don’t you think?

Imagine a world working in tandem to combat issues as seemingly unimportant  as a specific  religion (God is God, right?) or political theology to more pressing ones such as global warming (Nature as God perhaps?) and freedom, peace and safety for all.

So, “Remember, Honor, Renew…and Imagine.”   Designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, maybe the new Freedom Tower which will replace New York’s World Trade Center (finished by 2011 or so)  will embrace this new credo, but we certainly don’t have to wait until then to continue believing in ourselves and each other,  and imagining a better future, do we?

Linda V.