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Angel PatriotsThe Crash of United Flight 93 and the Myth of America$
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Alexander T. Riley

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9781479870479

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479870479.001.0001

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What Flight 93 Tells Us about America

What Flight 93 Tells Us about America

(p.281) 9 What Flight 93 Tells Us about America
Angel Patriots

Alexander T. Riley

NYU Press

This chapter reflects on what the memorialization of United Airlines Flight 93 symbolizes about American culture and society in the objective moment of crisis it is currently experiencing. More specifically, it explores the American cultural effort to propagate a mythology of national identity and heroism of the sort evident in the Flight 93 memorialization work. Citing evidence in the Flight 93 myth, the chapter suggests that the American civil religion is alive and well and continues to operate in morally complex ways. It considers how this set of mythical narratives and symbols about American identity continues to drive much cultural work and meaning-making, and especially that which is evoked by events of mass catastrophe and death such as those of 9/11. It argues that the intent of Flight 93 mythologization is to help us forget our vulnerability and our weakness and to thereby return as quickly as possible to our normal lives after the disaster.

Keywords:   memorialization, United Airlines Flight 93, American culture, national identity, heroism, myth, civil religion, American identity, death, 9/11

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