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Is it a souvenir or a memento?

Posted by ESC on March 16, 2004

A question came up on another board about whether the 9/11 objects in Rumsfeld's office are souvenirs or mementos.

Group: Probe Rumsfeld Over 9/11 Items
By Associated Press
March 15, 2004, 6:57 PM EST (Accessed March 16, 2004.)

WASHINGTON -- Law enforcement agencies should investigate Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and FBI agents for possessing mementos from the sites of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, a group of attorneys said Monday.

The National Whistleblower Center made the request because an inquiry found Rumsfeld has a piece of the airplane that flew into the Pentagon inside his office. The Justice Department's inspector general also discovered that 13 FBI agents had taken rubble, debris and items such as flags and a Tiffany crystal globe paperweight from Ground Zero at the World Trade Center.

Defense Department spokesman Eric Ruff rejected any suggestion of impropriety.

"It's not a souvenir; it is a memento on display in Secretary Rumsfeld's office," said Ruff. "It's hard to imagine there's something wrong in trying to remind people of what happened on 9/11."


I found this in one of my references:


"A 'memento' is a keepsake of a person or event that has come and gone -- for example, a locket once owned by a beloved aunt or the autograph of a celebrity you happened to meet.

A 'souvenir' is an item kept as a reminder of a place visited -- a place that's still there, even though you aren't. Souvenirs are usually manufactured expressly for that purpose, such as that postcard you bought for yourself of Disneyland or a replica of the Statue of Liberty..."

From "What's the Difference: A Compendium of Commonly Confused and Misused Words" by Jeff Robin (Ballantine Books, New York, 1994, Page 119).

What do you think?

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