Today I was forwarded an article from the Opinion Journal written by Debra Burlingame about the plans of the International Freedom Center (IFC) to turn the 9/11 World Trade Center memorial into a “high-tech, multimedia tutorial about man's inhumanity to man, from Native American genocide to the lynchings and cross-burnings of the Jim Crow South, from the Third Reich's Final Solution to the Soviet gulags and beyond.” I will not go into the full details of what the IFC has planned for the WTC memorial, as Ms. Burlingame explains it far better than I ever could. To learn about it, please go read her telling article here: The Great Ground Zero Heist. What I want to talk about is why this poorly disguised propaganda machine should not be allowed on this site and that any attempts to continue with this disgrace should be twarted by all means.
9/11 is my generation’s version of the Kennedy assassination or Space Shuttle Columbia in that it is a frozen moment in time for people. It is an event that everyone will remember, but not a comparison of the gravity of the events. It is the worst attack against American soil in history and everyone I know can tell you in great detail where they were and what they were doing on the morning of 9/11. I was sitting in my truck waiting for a local golf course to open so I could get a round in before work when news of the first airplane strike came across the radio. At first, I thought this was just a horrible accident, but when news of the 2nd plane came in, I knew that someone had waged an attack on us. I also remember being crammed into that small golf clubhouse gathered around a TV watching the news unfold with about 20 other fellow golfers. I remember the angst that I felt and calling my mother just to check in on her and ensure she was safe, even though I knew she was thousands of miles away from this tragedy. I remember an old man breaking down in tears saying that this reminded him of Pearl Harbor in so many ways and how the thought of it was almost too much for him to bare. All of these memories are permanently burned into my mind and I know that I will never lose them. These memories are as much a part of me as my right arm, and just as important.
Even more than the images of that day, I will forever remember my feelings the days, weeks, and months afterwards. I was angry and wanted to re-enlist in the military. I wanted to take up arms in defense of my country and make those responsible pay for their crimes. I felt extreme pride and sadness at the same time for the heroic members of the FDNY and NYPD who walked into burning, crumbling buildings to try and ensure that those still alive were able to go home to their families. I wanted to go to New York and lend those heroes, who were working 20+ hours a day searching for and saving the survivors, a hand, if only to allow them 20 minutes more rest during thier toil. I wanted to do something, but I just wasn’t sure what should be done. I never did do either one of those things, and that is something I know I will always regret. I did nothing when my country was hurt and needing me. I could have provided help and relief, but I did nothing. I still feel ashamed every time I think about it and that embarassment is something that will haunt me forever.
This is why I so look forward to the completion of the 9/11 WTC memorial. It will provide me a place to go and pay my respects to those that we lost that day. However, more important to me, it will allow me to go and offer my apologies for not doing more when I had the opportunity. I know that not everyone feels the same way I do, and that everyone will have different reasons for wanting to attend the memorial, but for me, it will serve, in some small way, as my penance for letting my country and its fallen children down during its hour of need. I want to see the names of our dead and ask for their forgiveness for not doing my part to ease their suffering and the suffering of their families. I do not want to go to the memorial and be confronted by the political ideologues from either the left or the right. I just want to pay my respects to the lost and honor their memories as I see fit. I do not want a history lesson in all of humankind’s failures, I just want to remember that day and see the names of those heroes that gave the ultimate sacrifice to their country and its citizens. I want to meet other people that are attending the same day as me and listen to the stories of their loved ones as they remember them, not be present during a speech that decries the political policies of the country on that day.
Let us keep the memorial for its true purpose: A place of remembrance for one of our countries greatest losses. Let us keep this as a place for families to go and visit the souls of their loved ones in peace and to remember them in their hearts. If the IFC gets their way, the World Trade Center memorial will be turned into a visual political billboard that showcases ideologies that needn’t be present. When members of the board of IFC make a comparison between 9/11 and the Abu Ghraib scandal, then we have a clear picture of the road that the IFC’s board intends to head down with this so called museum. If you must have a showcase of this sort, so be it, but pick an appropriate location. To place this on the location where so many of America’s mothers, sons, fathers, and daughters lost their lives is a disgrace. America shouldn’t disrespect our lost in this way, we should honor their memories, and the IFC has no intention of doing that.
If you feel as I do, then visit the Take Back the Memorial website. They have provide many links in which you can write the media and our government to voice your outrage at this horrendous disrespect of our loved ones, and I hope you use do use your voice. This is not about politics; it’s about the absence of politics where they have no place. I stood idly by on 9/11 when this site was under attack, I will not do it again. Please do not be mistaken, this is a second attack on the WTC. Maybe it’s not a physical attack, but it is an attack on the memory of what happened there, and an attack on the people who died as well as their families. Do not allow IFC to disgrace their memories. Take a stand and let IFC know that we will not allow them to disrespect our dead by using them as a vessel to push an agenda.