I worked in Manhattan and was there the day the World Trade Center was attacked and 2,800 people were murdered. The day it became Ground Zero. Our Navy son had come home to the United States from his duty station overseas on Navy business just days before the attack, and he insisted that he needed to be a witness to the aftermath of this unprovoked attack before he returned overseas. Like most New Yorkers, DH and I had no intention of visiting the site of the attack, but acquiesced to our son's wishes and visited the ruins of the World Trade Center with our three sons.
It was a stunningly beautiful early October morning, much like the spectacular September morning of the attacks. As we traversed the perimeter of the site, I kept repeating "Oh my God!" "Oh my God!" at the pile of rubble ten stories high. Every inch of the surrounding buildings were caked in the heavy dust and debris that just days earlier was a part of America and the people that lived here.
The site, being guarded by the New York National Guard, was being viewed by thousands that morning and we all walked through the neighborhood in almost complete silence and reverence. Conversations were conducted in whispers. There was no laughing or other conversation... just silent overwhelming sadness and outrage. Most of those present that morning, myself included, shed tears of grief and horror at the carnage.
EVERY DAY for more than 14 months after that date, there was a column in our local suburban newspaper with the title, "WTC Remains Identified" and began, "The following remains of victims at the World Trade Center have been identified..." and listed the names of the mothers, daughters, fathers, sons, brothers murdered that day. In our small county just over the Hudson River from Manhattan and home to many firefighters and police, there was a funeral for a victim virtually every day for more than 6 weeks.... many days, more than one victim was buried.
It was and remains my opinion after seeing the site that, had it not been for the need to recover the bodies of those slaughtered in that attack, we should have left the rubble and ruin there until every American and supporter of democracy worldwide had an opportunity to view it. It was truly that horrific and no image captured in photographs or film can convey the magnitude. I would like to have seen it left untouched for the same reason the Nazi concentration camps were left standing: to bear witness to those who perished and to be a testament that we can never let either event happen ever again.
The attacks of September 11, 2001 were THE events responsible for many joining our military to defend our country against future attacks. It was the event that cemented our youngest son's lifelong desire to be a soldier.
As I have written before (June 8 and June 9, 2005), there are individuals who want to share their "vision" and have us all believe that we brought this atrocity upon ourselves. They intend to turn the Memorial at Ground Zero into a statement on human rights atrocities in the world. It will not be a Memorial to the American citizens, firefighters, police and emergency medical personnel and non-Americans who were murdered that day. They want it to be a multi-media extravaganza of man's inhumanities to man: the Nazi Holocaust, Native American Genocide, Soviet gulags, the KKK...
Now, the body responsible for this proposal is taking advice from a consortium of foreign "museums of conscience" that the memorial at Ground Zero not feature the American point of view because it might offend non-Americans. Come again? Yes, the American tribute to its dead in an American museum on American soil might offend non-Americans!
A global network of human rights museums is urging the International Freedom Center to downplay America in its exhibits and programs at Ground Zero, the Daily News has learned.
The outrageous request is the latest controversy to torment the Freedom Center, whose leaders have tried to dispel the perception that it would be a home for America bashers.
"Don't feature America first," the IFC has been advised by the consortium of 14 "museums of conscience" that quietly has been consulting with the Freedom Center for the past two years over plans for the hallowed site. "Think internationally, where America is one of the many nations of the world."
I must absolutely agree with Jack Lynch:
"I can't think of a greater insult than to invite museums from other countries of the world to come and exploit what should be America's memorial," said Jack Lynch, who helped carry the body of his firefighter son Michael, 30, out of the rubble.
"If you're going to explore slavery, the Holocaust or women's rights, you should do it at Chelsea Piers or on the East River waterfront - anywhere but Ground Zero," said Debra Burlingame, whose brother Charles, 51, was the pilot of the plane that crashed into the Pentagon.
There is also a Take Back the Memorial Rally at the WTC site on September 10, 2005. My son's friends intend to be there and to represent our son who can't be there because he is busy fighting to keep such an event from happening again.
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