June 23, 2011

9/11 Artifacts: Who Will Take the American Airlines Slipper?

Artifacts recovered from the World Trade Center sit inside Hangar 17 at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, June 16, 2011. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey operates the World Trade Center steel program out of the building, donating steel recovered from the WTC site to cities, towns, firehouses and museums around the United States and the world. A number of pieces are leaving for their destinations now, in preparation for the 10 year anniversary of the 2001 attacks. — from TIME’s slide show on the inventory at JFK.

Funny how something so ordinary and unremarkable has such gruesome symbolism. Twisted metal. Rubble. Burnt fire trucks. Those things were once remarkable but are shorthand now. Maybe that’s a hangover from the years, minutes, seconds that 9/11 has been played and replayed and played again by politicians. Hell, there that stuff is, in a warehouse, marked for distribution to museums lined up around the world to display it. Who is in line for the slipper? It’s too intimate, too recently on the foot of someone who could not have survived. Rather than warmth or comfort, the slipper is a symbol of despair. And, it’s not lost on me that the “insurgents” we’ve been after all over the Muslim world wear slippers.

(photo: Mike Segar/Reuters caption: A slipper with an airline logo being held at the facility, photographed June 16, 2011.)

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Karen Donley
See other posts by Karen here.

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