Saturday, June 27, 2009

"To Lift a Nation" -- and the bottom line

"To Lift a Nation," the Sept. 11 monument at the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation in Emmittsburg, Md., was financed by an illegal Ponzi scheme, says the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Now it's for sale. The asking price of $425,000 will go to creditors of the failed Coadum Advisors Inc., which allegedly commissioned the monument in hopes of a big tax writeoff, The Associated Press reports.

I wonder how many monuments and other landmarks that we take at face value today were commissioned for less than honorable reasons or beneath a cloud of financial wrongdoing. If you can think of examples, please let me know.

Sculptor Stanley J. Watts -- who himself had nothing to do with Coadum's finagling -- has an interesting page about "To Lift a Nation," with photos that show just how big it is.

The 40-foot bronze figures are based on George Johnson, Dan McWilliams and Billy Eisengrein, the three flag-raising firefighters in the famous photo by Thomas E. Franklin of The Record in Hackensack, N.J., snapped amid the ruins of the World Trade Center in the late afternoon of Sept. 11, 2001. (Since that day, incidentally, the famous flag has gone missing.) The photo has been reproduced ad infinitum, even on a U.S. postage stamp. Web pages devoted to the photo and its story include this one, at Victoria Mielke's interesting 9/11: Pop Culture & Remembrance site; the Wikipedia entry; and this one, where The Record will sell you a reproduction of the photo for $23.80, not to mention embroidered shirts, leather jackets, laser-engraved ceramic tiles, etc. (Proceeds go to charity.)

Ricky Flores of The Journal News in Westchester, N.Y., took his own photo of the flag-raising, from a different angle. Though equally excellent, Flores' photo is much less well known, partially because it emphasizes neither the men nor the flag but the surreal, spooky landscape of devastation all around.

No comments: