This Sept. 11, the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks upon America, New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg will dedicate the massive, $600 million National September 11 Memorial and Museum at the World Trade Center. What Americans have not been told is that this “memorial” will remake Ground Zero so that it does not acknowledge 9/11.
Instead of acting as a constant reminder of the attacks, a symbol for us and future generations of the evil that struck, the death and destruction it caused and the heroism and sacrifice in response, the memorial will wipe out all evidence and memory of the attacks.
Replacing all reminders of the attacks will be two immense “voids” with gigantic subterranean waterfalls designed to express exclusively, as per architect Michael Arad, the continuing “absence in our lives caused by these deaths.”
About 500 trees will be planted upon the site. They are, we are told by memorial officials, “traditional symbols of the rejuvenation of life.” They also will eradicate all trace and memory of what stood there for 30 years and its destruction on Sept. 11.
The cause of “these deaths,” how these people came to be absent - that is, 9/11 - has been deemed irrelevant and even contrary to your memorial “experience.”
The memorial is not about that; it’s about you.
Cities and towns across America have humbly requested a segment of the twisted steel of the WTC to feature in their own modest Sept. 11 memorials. The only memorial where one is not welcome is the “national” memorial at Ground Zero. Those iconic remnants, exactly because they are iconic, are considered far too gauche for the jury of intellectuals and artists who chose the design.
The National September 11 Memorial at the WTC will not include the iconic WTC “Sphere” - again, exactly because it is iconic. “The Sphere” stood in the center of the WTC plaza for 30 years as a symbol of world peace. On 9/11, though badly damaged (a piece of one of the planes tore through it) it survived the attacks in place and was embraced by many Americans as a symbol of the nation’s strength and resiliency.
That is why it cannot be returned.
It sits at Battery Park, about a half-mile from Ground Zero, where it was installed March 11, 2002, the six-month anniversary of the attacks, as a “temporary” memorial. Battery Park is undergoing its own renovations, and “The Sphere” will have to moved.
One 9/11 anniversary at Ground Zero, Mr. Arad told me that returning “The Sphere” would be “didactic.” That is, it would tell us what to think.
Somehow disposing of it is not telling us what to think.
This is like banishing the USS Arizona from the USS Arizona Memorial.
The 9/11 memorial will not identify Christine Lee Hanson, who died with her parents when United Airlines Flight 175 was slammed into the South Tower, as being “age 2.” This might convince you that the American victims were “innocent” and the foreign terrorists “guilty.”
That would be telling us what to think.
It will not include the initials FDNY, NYPD or PAPD. It will not include the words “firefighter” or “police officer.”
Recognizing the heroism and sacrifice of the firefighters and police officers would contrast those virtues with the barbarism and crime of the terrorists.
And though Mr. Bloomberg has said our values demand a Ground Zero Mosque, he will not allow the Rev. Mychal Judge, the FDNY chaplain who died while praying the Lord’s Prayer in the lobby of WTC 1, to be identified as “Fire Chaplain Father” Mychal Judge.
It is only traditional Judeo-Christian values that have no place at Ground Zero.
The photo of the three firefighters raising the flag at Ground Zero became as iconic of Sept. 11 as Joe Rosenthal’s famous photo of the Marines’ flag-raising at Iwo Jima was of World War II. So you know its fate.
This historic and symbolic act will not be depicted or recognized in any way. The design of the “national” Sept. 11 memorial will not, therefore, honor the values targeted and will deny them as deserving of our defense and sacrifice.
“How do we commemorate the countless accumulated memories of the attacks?” the 13-member memorial jury disingenuously asked in describing their task. Their answer? Eliminate all that we, the people, remember of the terrorist attacks.
This at the place where America was attacked.
One reason the Sept.11 attacks succeeded was the scourge of political correctness. It dictated that our national security officials could not track or investigate Middle Eastern men in America despite their “suspicious” behavior (such as learning how to fly jetliners without any interest in learning how to take off or land). Evidently, we have learned nothing. The National September 11 Memorial at the World Trade Center is not, nor is it intended to be, a genuine and lasting commemoration of Sept. 11. Rather, it is political correctness gone mad.
Michael Burke served on the family advisory committee for the memorial and the advisory committee on the museum center to the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. His brother, New York Fire Department Capt. William F. Burke Jr., Engine Company 21, gave his life on 9/11.