Monday, May 31, 2010

On Memorials

So when I heard that there was going to be a mosque put up near Ground Zero, I was kind of upset. After all, 9-11 was not the happiest time for me, or for anyone living in or near New York, and the idea of mosque going up at such a…shall we say sensitive? bothered me. Of course, further checking into the situation told me that the mosque was pretty much just a previous mosque being rebuilt a few stories larger, so it wasn’t such a big deal to me anymore.

What is kind of a big deal is the fact that Ground Zero is still a big hole in the ground. Nothing’s really been done other than clearing up some of the debris. I think the mosque thing wouldn’t be such a big deal for anyone if we had put something up by now to commemorate those we lost that terrible day. I’ve heard that there are various plans and ideas, from a series of smaller towers to a park to a community center. Some have even said that the simple elegance of the hole left by the Towers’ destruction is memorial enough to the tragedy.

I disagree. While not a New Yorker myself, I’ve been able to get to know plenty of people from the city while I lived in Connecticut, and such simple memorials are in no way really representative of the character, courage and charisma of the Big Apple. It just doesn’t fit either the tragedy itself, nor the city that bore it to leave things as they are, and I’m kind of dissatisfied with the plans that I’ve heard to remedy it.

Then again, my own personal idea of what an appropriate memorial would be might be considered a bit extreme. I envision three new towers, two of which are more or less replicas of the old. They would be called the New World Trade Center, and they would be places of business, commerce and enterprise, just like the old ones. I want all three of them to be full of stores, offices and headquarters for police departments and fire stations. I want them built back just the way they were, with the extra tower standing to the west, just a little smaller to not overshadow the replicas of the originals. I want them back, with one real difference to make sure we never forget what happened. You could call it a personal touch.

I want the South Tower to have murals on the ground level showing the wars in Iraq, the beginning of the democratic process in that country, and the defeat and trials of Saddam Hussein. The North Tower would have a mural depicting the struggle in Afghanistan, the defeat of the Taliban, and the democracy that is starting to form there. On the bottom of the third tower, I want two murals. One to show the trials, imprisonment, and executions of every single person responsible for what happened that day with the centerpiece being whatever suitable fate we eventually give Osama. The other would show the heroes that stood up in spite of it, the firemen and police that went into the Towers before they fell, and then a depiction of the Towers being rebuilt, story by story, floor by floor.

The last touch that I would want would be an empty field to the east. There would be no fences, no benches, nothing but grass and a single stone plaque facing east. On it, with words engraved in both English and Arabic, would be a single message. “There’s room for a fourth, you bastards. Signed, New York City, United States of America.”

That’s the only memorial I could ever find appropriate for the World Trade Center. Give me that, and you can build whatever you want around it, I won’t care. Then again, I might be satisfied with something else, if the politicians ever stir themselves to do something. Cause the hole in the ground is something they made. It’s not a memorial. When a terrorist attack claims thousands of American lives, something needs to be said by us, the ones they left behind. And a park just doesn’t cut it.

1 comment:

  1. I think that your tower idea is cool. I also agree that leaving a hole in the ground isn't much of a memorial. I think there should be an archive of information about the event there. A place where you can go and listen to the tapes, watch the video coverage, and read about the lives of the people who died there. It would be a like a memorial museum so we could always remember what happened there.