Are you burned out on 9/11? If so, is that a tremendous moral crime for which there is no remedy? How can we — as a world of nations — have so quickly become so tired and weary of an event that smothered the end of any sense of freedom we have left a mere six years ago?
The bigger crime is an ongoing inexcusable wallowing mass of death and despair at “Ground Zero” that started as this:
And soon became this:
And now, six years later, still looks like this:
The World Trade Center is still a “Ground Zero” death pit. It may not
be smoking. It may not be filled with the dead and dying — but there
is no spirit there.
There is no building there.
There is no memorial there.
There is only the rotting semiotic of a successful
terrorist attack there that was well planned and well executed — and
we still have yet to recover any sense of normalcy or reasonableness in
That “Ground Zero Grave with No Headstone” became a rallying cry for a war in Iraq that was unjust, unjustified and incomprehensible in its core.
In the past we’ve tried to give form here to the smoldering events of 9/11:
The Incongruity of Mourning and the 9/11 Memorial:
When do the dead cost more than the living? Is there
greater worth being dead than being a survivor? In the wake of a
national tragedy the lost automatically become more important than the
living and I wonder why such great value is placed on the dead.
Word Trade Center Killing Grounds:
When the PATH train enters the World Trade Center stop it
snakes through the heart of the World Trade Center killing grounds like
some kind of Expressionistic Disney ride with a twist of terror. I was
not mentally or emotionally prepared to enter an open grave but there I
was, pushed in the midst of an international crime scene where the
mastermind of the murders still runs loose on the land while we moulder
alive in our bodies.
Building Invisible Buildings at Ground Zero:
The new “Invisi-Trade Center” is an unfortunate joke on
those who perished among those hallowed grounds and while history is
never made twice, its errors can be repeated over and over again as
witnessed in the tender and frightened replacement shell buildings
quivering in the shadow of footprints where great giants once stood.
One need only look at Ground Zero and realize just how far we haven’t come since that awful day of infamy six years ago today.
Word Calluses and the 9/11 Death Pit
Today is the sixth anniversary of the crowning of the Ground Zero Death Pit where the World Trade Center used to stand. I have written about that life-changing, world-modifying event every year since the attack and I have come to
Rebuilding Ground Zero has presented many problems; that’s why it is still incomplete.
1) They still occasionally find bits of people and that spurs various relatives of the dead to raise cries of “stop building! Find our dead!”
2) The econmic shift in Manhattan made almost every one of the original designs unpalatable. The plans had too much office space and would have crashed commericial rental prices.
3) Just building in lower Manhattan is a pain. It’s slow going to avoid interfering with life and business.
As for the Memorial aspect of the whole thing, my feelings may be a bit different than yours. I’ll stop by tonight on my home, first at my old apartment that was totalled by debris, then at ground Zero to renew the same oath I sworn every year –
Never to Forget. Never to Forgive.
Excellent comments! Here are my return thoughts:
1. There will always be bits of the dead to be found. One can never recover all of them. When pieces are found, honor them, but how long does one wait before moving on?
2. I agree none of the plans are satisfactory. They should just make a city park, a memorial and be done with it. No one wants to live and work over a terrorist grave site.
3. Rebuilding a new tower is not the answer.
No one who lives or works in NYC when the towers fell is untouched by the recklessness and the ongoing debris.
The point is we do need to forgive and move on or we become captives of our past and slaves to our hate.
Don’t forget, sure, but we are required to forgive in order not to be controlled by events we did not seek or wish for as our end.
The politicalization of the grave site and making it a rationale for war dishonors those who fell and those who want to fill in the scar in lower Manhattan and live in the now instead of being eternally beckoned back to yesterday.
Why is there still a hole there?
That’s a good question, arin, and it makes me also wonder why New Orleans still a mess after Katrina landed.
I guess it’s because if we, as a nation, really wanted to move on into the future we’d have something filling that Ground Zero hole and we’d have a resurrected New Orleans.
But we don’t.
We have holes where people used to live and work and play and no one really seems to care.
It doesn’t help that so much of our blood and treasure is being spent in Iraq. Losing that kind of money every day makes taking care of things here at home less important, I guess.
So many shows about 911 so starting over maybe means people will forget
I’m not big on ritualistic burials and grave ceremonies, arin. I think they’re more for falsely placating the living than honoring the dead and I know the best way to move on with a life is to make peace with the past and take a step forward without looking back with regret.
Our needs must define us, not our defeats.
Here’s an article on finding buried remains in October, 2006:
Build this, but change the name. There should still be room for park area around the base.
I think in the new realm of terrorism a “mile high” tower won’t cut it any longer, I fear. No one would want to work or live in one.
I am not sure what to say.
My cousin lost her friends/colleagues in 9/11 – she still remembers the day.
I can’t ask the nation to be oblivious about the date but something constructive will be good.
Hi Katha —
I agree 9/11 won’t ever be let go by everyone — but there comes a time when most of us need to move on, mourn less, and stop living in regret.
Anil Dash has a interesting commentary on 9/11 and letting it go as a New Yorker:
I read in the AJC that every year less and less people show up at the sight in remembrance of the tragedy on its anniversary. That is so sad and pathetic. Americans have lost sight of what America is about. We have become a nation of materialists and we have taken our freedom for granted. When I say we, I am certainly including myself because I did not even think about paying tribute to the site on its anniversary.
I think people are tired of having 9/11 used by politicians to provoke anger and false emotion.
We want to mourn in private and in our own way, but they keep using the rubble to scare us. I think that’s part of the reason nothing has happened at Ground Zero.
The money people want that empty pit as an angry reminder we need to buy more guns and build more bombs. If something beautiful were there, the semiotic power of 9/11 is discarded into the immediate past and no politician wants to lose that emotional cudgel.
I know I’m tired of having politician trot out 9/11 for just about any pupose that suits them. I think we do need to remind the lazy and weak-willed though that our fight isn’t over; our enemies are still alive.
They should build something at Ground Zero; a pit isn’t necessary to remind people to do what’s right and to take those steps necessary to protect ourselves.
I agree our enemies are not embedded in 9/11 — that event is done and over and we have many more serious threats to our lives and happiness that must be dealt with in terrible and indiscreet ways.
The biggest sin about Ground Zero — to native New Yorkers anyway — is that the pit has become a tourist destination.
We have had so many friends from the Midwest who want to “visit” us and have us take them to “go see” the death pit.
I understand the curiosity, but not the morbidity of it. For those of us who lived through it all — that pit is a grave and a horrible reminder about the worst of us out in the free world.
It took us three years before we were able to even walk by the place and face that open wound with our eyes.
When people asked us why we refused to visit to “see it with out own eyes” — we’d just tell them, “we smelled it every day, we don’t need to see it once.” They either got it or they didn’t.
We need to move forward into a future where we don’t live in our wounds and express delight in our scars. Let’s heal, look up, and begin the proper, quiet, assassinations of those who wish to hurt us before they even have the chance to plant a bomb, board an airplane or aim a rifle.