“Thy mandates make heroes assemble, when Liberty’s form stands in view; Thy banners make tyranny tremble,
Columbia was an idealized name for America in the early days of the Republic…
This proposal was posted last year around July Fourth and, now that the Museum is mired in controversy, we are updating the timeframe and putting the spotlight on the piece once again. We realize that officials are resistant to and dismissive of anything that makes sense. But what is there to lose by considering a solution that could easily be accomplished in a year’s time, would not require tearing out anything that now exists, and would save the public at least $10 million annually, while resolving so many of the valid objections to the current plan? Nothing. What is there to gain? Over $100 million in the next decade and the confidence that comes with mastering our difficulties – which would be a template for constructive civic action nationwide. (Updated 7/3/12)
The “Profiles in Courage” that we all witnessed on September 11, 2001 — and in the horrifying months that followed — surpassed the bravest bravery most of us have ever seen. That is what makes the “Profiles in Vanity” of those who stole the recovery Americans had every right to expect a capital offense. Heads should roll — or at least reputations and careers — for putting their petty ambitions and prejudices before their loyalty to the American people.
We are very glad that there was something ready for the 10th Anniversary, for the sake of the country and the 9/11 Families. But it is certainly not the best we can do. And now that the costs are ballooning and tensions at the site are rising, we offer the following suggestions on how to make it better, more sustainable, and more uplifting…
We are not stuck with the morbid messaging and surreal extravagance of the current complex. We can get rid of the drain on our spirits and the drain on our treasury by adopting some very affordable changes. We are not going to actively promote this concept beyond this page, because so much related to our core mission now requires urgent effort. But this is an outline of a proposal, to show that we do have options.
We have a duty to reject the invitation to go into perpetual mourning. Bin Laden attacked our symbols because symbols have power. People around the world get it, even if we do not. We frequently hear from people in other countries who are heartsick at what we’re doing — and what we’re failing to do. The following is a part of a touching message a young man in England wrote to us last June:
“From 10:28 AM on 9/11, I have been hopeful of seeing the new Twins rise, and I still have hope that the Freedom Tower will be capped and the LMDC’s ”Reflecting Absence”, essentially a euphemism for ”Hijackers’ Memorial” will be disposed of. The footprint waterfalls resemble toilets, and that’s exactly what’s happening at Ground Zero, as water flushes down from the footprints, America’s dreams get flushed down, too…”
The symbolism of the “largest manmade falls in North America” is hard to miss. And so is the cost. The electricity needed to keep both waterfalls running — estimated at 1 megawatt per hour — would power about 800 average homes, according to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. But it is the impressive design’s endless focus on “the loss suffered in the deadliest terrorist attack on U.S. soil and the impossibility of filling the resulting void,” that is most costly because perpetual mourning robs us of spirit.
The 9/11 Memorial Foundation originally said it would raise most of its annual $50-$60 million operating costs through private donations, but now they are seeking $20 million in federal taxpayer funding by tapping the National Parks Department to “oversee” the complex that will cost more to operate annually than it cost to build most national memorials — maybe put together — and they will still need to charge museum visitors $20-$25.
What if the people don’t agree with that morbid agenda or colossal cost? What if tubing is laid across each footprint’s floor to feed real fountains — like the ones seen at memorials all around the world — that would speak of resilience and hope, instead of endless, inconsolable grief? A false floor would then hide both the piping and those huge, black drains. Installation would cost a fraction of the currently budgeted operating costs to replace the inexorable rush of water with gentle streams down the sides and dancing sprays that celebrate how life goes on. And we could still turn on the waterfalls for the annual anniversary ceremony. So in the end, nothing would be wasted and much would be saved.
Another improvement would be the flags which, like fountains, are universally present at national memorials because their colors and symbols, representing courage, solidarity, and life, resonate in the human heart. The 400 trees that signify rest and renewal will be lovely when they change color and grow to their full height. They are a welcome addition to the site. But the fluttering banners representing every nation that lost a citizen — 15 per angle and 20 feet apart — would stir peoples’ souls. The flags would add a missing dimension to the current memorial without adding appreciably to the cost.
Finally, two indispensable elements are missing from the current 9/11 Memorial: A fitting grave for the remains that are unidentified, which the Bloomberg regime thinks to make part of the museum — against the wishes of many, perhaps most, 9/11 families — and the indomitable Koenig Sphere, which was dedicated to world peace from its inception, and the Eternal Flame that was lit when it was rededicated on September 11, 2002. How amazing it would be if they were to be combined: A low crypt that is flush to the ground holding the remains, with the Sphere and Flame as their headstone, would be simple and tremendously powerful.
If we have the will, there is still a way to make this a great memorial. It’s time for the media will stop behaving as if there is a statute of limitations on solutions to our problems and publicize this on the basis that it would easily save the public over ten million dollars a year while addressing many of the flaws that mar the current plan. It is their duty to fully inform and then poll the public and the 9/11 Families, since our “leaders” never will.
Everywhere we look today we see examples of government barreling down the tracks like a runaway train and there never seems to be anything we can do about it. But a crucial measure of the integrity of a system, a community, or a citizen is how effectively each can address and correct evident breakdowns and threats before they inevitably get worse. The dedicated workers who cleared away the hellacious wreckage of the 9/11 attacks months ahead of schedule — showed us how it’s done: You show up and you do it.
The only other choice is to give up and self-medicate. That appears to be what we are doing as a nation, because everything seems to be beyond us to repair — but fixing a broken Memorial now would show just how effective we can be in fixing a broken World Trade Center and a broken country. Anyone who doubts that the Memoriial is broken only has to consider the exorbitant admission fee to the museum that will be needed to offset the complex’s absolutely insane $60 million per year operating costs.
There is no reason to hold the Memorial hostage to Mayor Bloomberg’s prejudice and conceit — or anyone else’s. While the funding was about 60% private, it is highly unlikely that the donors were voting primarily for a particular design, but for the commemoration. And the other 40% was paid for by a public agency and the entire WTC project has been supported by Federal taxpayers from the beginning — with no end in sight.
If we can achieve a better memorial in the eyes of most Americans, while shaving off the extravagant cost of the waterfalls, why wouldn’t we? If people find this proposal uplifting, instead of depressing, what legitimate obstacles could there be to implementing the changes in time for the Grand Opening of the entire National 9/11 Memorial and Museum complex in 2013?
The following links were included when the page was originally posted last year and we will leave them for historical perspective. The direction of the National 9/11 Memorial and Museum and fate of The Sphere are now in the news and we provide links and analysis on a weekly basis in The Twin Towers Journal pages.
“Twin Towers II” designer Kenneth Gardner concluded his remarks at the May, 2005, press conference in the lobby of Trump Tower with a timeless call to greatness. The lines from the Tennyson poem “Ulysses” capture the essence of why Ken bothered, why we bother, and why we all must bother to be standard-bearers for what is true.
What is true at Ground Zero is that the an unfair advantage was given to those who did not have the American people’s best interests at heart. No one with any sense of the twists and turns of history would bet the farm that it’s over at Ground Zero — no matter how it looks. Our 8/16/11 bulletin — “The Anatomy of a Swindle” — explains why that would be a risky bet.
In a democracy, doing the right thing in the collective sense depends on doing the right thing as individuals. Whether or not the Twin Towers rise again is beyond any one of us to determine. But speaking out and taking a stand against the failure to honor the collective will of the people at Ground Zero is the duty of everyone who believes that was and is wrong.
Lowering our standards to accept or tolerate or settle for what is expedient is not to compromise, but to be compromised.Come, my friends,
‘Tis not too late to seek a newer world…
That which we are, we are,
One equal-temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
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