September 18, 2001
UNITED FLIGHT 93
Online memorials for attack victims
The Internet is transforming the way we grieve.
BY SHANNON TAN
For Amy Leasure, a police dispatcher in Prescott Valley, Ariz., the Website she helped build stemmed from a desire to create a memorial quilt with a block for each individual lost in last week's terrorist attacks.
For 63-year-old Cincinnati retiree Robert Young, who was diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer, his site was a tribute to the bravery of United Airlines Flight 93 passengers and crew.
In the aftermath of the tragedy, individuals and companies have set up online memorials for airline crew, passengers and other victims.
They say it's the least they can do.
"Because of the drugs I'm taking I can't give blood, I'm on such meager social security I can't give money, but I've got skills and I've got a domain name, and I can use it," Young, who created www.phoenix5.org/Flight93index.html, said in a phone interview.
Young said he was touched that several of the passengers may have prevented Flight 93 from reaching its final destination.
"These were civilians -- this wasn't their job," he said. "They were just Americans."
Last Tuesday, Leasure was driving home, thinking how she could help.
"The small town I live in isn't going to have any blood drives till October," she said. "And I thought what can I do -- I can quilt."
Some 300 quilters have signed on to www.wtcmemorialquilt.com to help stitch together a large memorial quilt, which will be personalized by family members and eventually donated to the government.
And for self-described "housedad" Cullen Cook of Ontario, Calif., a non-official Pokemon fan site was the medium he turned to.
Cook launched the Black Page Project at www.teamrocketgym.com, asking Webmasters to change their opening pages to have a black background and white text.
"I wanted to focus on the unity, not the destruction," he said. Some 50 Website have participated in the project, while others have offered to send Pokemon trading cards to children affected by the attacks.
For at least one company, the events of Sept. 11 meant more than changing the background of their homepage.
Fort Lauderdale-based Earth Plaza, a web hosting and development company, had been developing www.worldtradecenter.com for the past five years as an e-commerce site.
But they decided to turn it into an online memorial, with links to sites such as the Red Cross.
"The first few hours, we had hundreds and hundreds of offers to buy the name," said Pam Kagan, Earth Plaza's operations manager. A British company offered 10 million pounds (about $14.6 million). The company does not plan to sell.
"We're not going to profit off this horrific event," she said.
Daniel McLean, president of Ottawa, Ontario-based Ecommercenetworks Inc., bought about 45 domain names -- including flight77memorial.org and flight93.com -- and plans to donate them to families of the victims and community organizations.
It will cost the company, which is also providing hosting and design services for the online memorials, about $15,000.
"People need to heal," McLean said. "Celebrating their life is a way to heal."
Bill Addington, CEO of Houston, Texas-based Enerva, was also trying to be positive.
The site, www.11september2001memorial.com, allows visitors to post their feelings, poems and stories, and asks family and friends of victims to send in photos.
"We want to make sure it's intended to be a permanent memorial," he said. "The purpose is so people don't become statistics, they become individuals."
www.worldtradecenterdisaster.com and www.pentagondisaster.com
[These links were part of the original story.]