As the anniversary of 9/11 rolls around this year it will mark the opening of the memorial in NYC and in the field in Pennsylvania.  The terms used often feature the haunting words "sacred space."

After 1995 in Oklahoma City, the location of the Murrah Federal Building bombing were likewise labeled as "sacred space."

The first three days of July 1863 saw a small community transformed by the carnage of war, as citizens battled citizens over states rights and slavery.   A weary President Abraham Lincoln, penned a simple, yet so powerful speech that turned the bloody field into a symbol.  A sacred space....

"Four score and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation: conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal

Now we are engaged in a great civil war. . .testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated. . . can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate. . .we cannot consecrate. . . we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember, what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advancedIt is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us. . .that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion. . . that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain. . . that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom. . . and that government of the people. . .by the people. . .for the people. . . shall not perish from the earth. "

Yet, this Civil War era battlefield, this sacred space, has been threatened, like many other such sites, with the encroachment of development, economic envy, and non-sacred elements.    Will these new memorials one day too face the threat of people to whom these supreme sacrifices are but a distant and little understood bit of boring history?

We label a place sacred because of its deeply meaningful history and the way it has shaped some crucial moment.   We must remember and teach each generation of these moments, devoid of politics, devoid of rancor, and devoid of self-interest.  The many who sacrificed in such places deserve no less.

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H. P. Lovecraft

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