This past Monday I spent the early afternoon at Church and Liberty Streets in Lower Manhattan. I was there with a few hundred other family members who lost loved ones in the World Trade Center disaster of September 11, 2001. I was proud to stand with many of those people who are a part of the Coalition of 9/11 Families, who are protesting the start of the building of Ground Zero Memorial.
My friend Joyce was among the unfortunate victims of the terror attacks at the World Trade Center. It was an event that totally turned my life upside down, and in ways I could never possibly have expected. Right after they happened, I felt I needed to do something to help, as I considered Joyce to be a wonderful and caring friend. For over four years I have been behind the struggle to properly remember the 9/11 victims at Ground Zero. It has been a long and at times painful struggle for all those involved, especially the family members who lost loved ones.
I don't have a big problem the memorial in and of itself. It is called "Reflecting Absence" and it was designed by architect Michael Arad. It features two pools of water and cascading waterfalls to mark where the two towers of the WTC stood. I'm sure it will be asthetically beautiful. But it is flawed, and it needs to be re-worked, as opposed to being scrapped.
First, the memorial will be underground, and that makes absolutely no sense to me. All the great memorials in America, such as at Gettysburg, Pearl Harbor, Oklahoma City, The Alamo and in Washington D.C. are above ground and soar upwards. They are all beautiful, and all commemorate the best of America. But the LMDC (the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation) thinks a below-ground memorial is more fitting. Putting it there also descrates the footprints of the towers, which should and must be completely preserved.
The 9/11 victims deserve nothing more than the best possible tribute we can give them. We will be judged by future generations by how we honor those 2,749 brave souls who perished in the darkest morning in the history of the United States.
The plans for the memorial call for one entrance into it and one exit out of it. That sounds like another disaster waiting to happen. The 9/11 WTC Memorial will attract millions and millions of people to it, and getting those people to and from it has to be done in a better fashion. The memorial plans are also exempt from strict New York City fire and building codes. This is because the World Trade Center site is owned by the Port Authority, and not the City of New York. (It is no wonder that of the new buildings either planned or now being built at the site, very few companies have shown much interest in being a possible tenant there.) This is another reason why a future disaster may be in the making.
Another thing about the memorial that bothers me is the fact that the names of the WTC victims will be put in a random order. The LMDC feels that if people search and search for a certain victim's name it would be better than to just group them together. I fail to see any logic to this. The first responders (FDNY, NYPD, PAPD, etc.) should be grouped together, as well as those innocent people who died together (like at Cantor Fitzgerald and Marsh and McLennan). They worked together, and they died together, so they should be immortalized together.
Sounds simple doesn't it? It makes me wonder what these people at the LMDC are using for brains.
The Coalition of 9/11 Families has filed suit seeking an injunction to stop the construction, and arguments will be heard in New York State Supreme Court beginning on Wednesday. In the meanwhile, the LMDC continues to make noise about how the public really wants these plans, and how the Family Groups are divided amongst themselves. They continually say that those protesting the current memorial are just a few dozen people, and don't represent the 9/11 families at large.
Nothing could be further from the truth. It is the MO of the LMDC to sway public opinion by continually suggesting that there was a fair and open dialogue about the memorial, when there really wasn't one. The TV station New York 1 took an online poll about the memorial, and over 70% of New Yorkers agreed that the memorial was flawed and should be moved above ground. Right now there is a petition online to eliminate the Port Authority exemptions at Ground Zero, as well to move the memorial above ground. You can go to the petition by clicking this link: http://www.petitiononline.com/WTT2006/petition.html
Right now over 5500 people have signed this online, and at Ground Zero, another 500 people have also signed it. Sure sounds to me that move than just "a few dozen" people want the Ground Zero Memorial changed.
I am really proud of the efforts made by some great people I have come to know, namely Anthony Gardner of the WTC United Family Group (of which I am also a member) and so many other people who suffered such a devastating and catastophic loss on September 11, 2001. They have turned their grief into a great positive thing, and they will not rest until the memories of their lost loved ones is properly remembered at Ground Zero. The LMDC should also know that the family groups aren't going away, as they will be there at every turn, and for the long haul.
They will also forever have my undying love and support.