WTC Memorial Should Only Be About 9/11
On Wednesday, Debra Burlingame, board member at the World Trade Center Memorial Foundation, alerted readers of The Wall Street Journal to disturbing plans for the World Trade Center site.
The World Trade Center Memorial Cultural Complex will be an imposing edifice wedged in the place where the Twin Towers once stood. It will serve as the primary "gateway" to the underground area where the names of the lost are chiseled into concrete. The organizers of its principal tenant, the International Freedom Center (IFC), have stated that they intend to take us on "a journey through the history of freedom”…not only history's triumphs but also its failures. The public will have come to see 9/11 but will be given 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.
There’s noting wrong with a museum dedicated to the history of freedom and oppression. But there is something terribly wrong with putting it on the World Trade Center site.
Any memorial, any museum that is erected on that ground should be about nothing more and nothing less than that day. Don’t try to make it symbolic, don’t try to put it into context, don’t try to do anything more than honor the dead, honor the heroes and remember a day that changed everyone.
There are enough books, movies, writers and historians trying to contextualize 9/11, creating meaning out of the raw chaos of that day. That’s fine. Let history do its work. Someday our children will study it, discuss it, ask us about it. But there absolutely must be one place where they can feel it.
At Ground Zero, in that one place of all places, let’s remember September 11, 2001 as it was. We owe it to ourselves and we owe it to those who come after.