Today's New York Daily News has a guest editorial column that features my friend Anthony Gardner, who is head of the support group the WTC United Family Group, of which I am a member. Anthony wrote a column today along with a lady named Janet Roy about the ongoing controversy about the listing of the WTC victims names at the Memorial. It is a very good column, and I thought I would publish it here as well.
What's in a name? More than the letters
by Anthony Gardner and Janet Roy
Hundreds of bones unearthed at Ground Zero since October extend the echo of 9/11's brutality.
During that same period, Mayor Bloomberg, by fiat, chose the memorial plan that lists only the names of the dead, reducing the 9/11 victims to mere letters and stripping them of any human condition connected to their memory. Insisting that he will not tell us what to think, the mayor hurls his elective office behind an iron-fisted effort to tell us what not to think.
Fear that some victims may evoke greater pity than others leads the mayor to impose grief of a lowest common denominator. No one will be equipped with the context that might enable them to learn from history and mourn any genuinely distinct individual among 2,979 slaughtered innocents. Those whose skin and bones were blasted over 16 acres are to be rendered indistinguishable.
Military and municipal employees are stripped of rank. The flight attendant who fought to warn the world is left anonymous. That one in four New York dead worked for one firm is withheld. Three 11-year-olds must eternally cry for attention, hidden among thousands of adults. The despair of the Hanson family, which lost a son and daughter-in-law who died along with their 2-year-old toddler, is paved over. No artifacts, no mention of Sept.11, 2001. No American flag. No history. Just a visitor center that bisects and obstructs the view millions will journey to see. And in its shadow, two pools in a city park.
The majority of 9/11 families and municipal unions, with members of the memorial's board, long ago identified decorous means to display name, rank, affiliation and age, in honor of the victims and as history dictates.
Americans did not fear the truth on 9/11. Bloomberg must give it to them now, rather than insisting that the names be scattered like debris.
Gov. Spitzer recently retreated from his remarks on the need for a "public discussion" on how the names should be listed. The governor must realize what is at stake, and do what is best for the American people. It's not too late for Bloomberg to do the same.
Anthony Gardner lost his brother Harvey Joseph Gardner 3rd on 9/11. Janet Roy lost her brother, FDNY Capt. Billy Burke. Gardner and Roy are the organizers of savethe911memorial.com.