LMDC Public Hearing Comments on WTC Memorial


Marjorie J. Clarke, Ph.D.


October 7, 2002


I commented from the balcony during the hearing, but wanted to elaborate on my points.




Mission Statement

The mission and purpose should be Remembrance and Reverence, not retribution.  The mission should NOT be confused with the angry sentiments emoted by those who want to "Show those terrorists who's the best".  If this were the purpose of the memorial, we'd want to erect a huge bronze fist with middle finger extended.  It is also Totally inappropriate for a memorial to build huge office buildings.  That shows business as usual; no remembrance, no reverence. 


I favor three elements for the memorial: 

1.     Pay homage to all the lives lost due to the attack, their countries and their contributions to society.  I would not just limit it to those who died on 9/11, but also those who will die as a result of inhaling the toxic and carcinogenic vapors and dusts created as a result of the attacks.  I'd suggest part of the memorial be dedicated to the victims of the environmental disaster.


2.     Teach future generations ALL that happened on 9/11 and the specifics of the response on all levels (anti-terrorism, evacuations, environmental and health assessments, cleanup of Ground Zero and of dust from surrounding areas, transportation, etc) (good and bad).  Detail the lessons learned.  Teach why 911 happened so that we don't repeat history.


3.     Give hope for a future of a healthy appreciation for all peoples and for a balanced and healthy environment.


Themes to be added or removed:

This was the country's worst environmental disaster, affecting the most people.  There have already been deaths and disease that the government is trying hard to avert our attention from.  But we need to remember this too.  But the cancer and asthma deaths due to the burning buildings and remaining indoor contamination were/are also caused by the terrorists.  These lives are no less important than those who died instantaneously.  So the memorial should include remembrance, reflection, and learning from the environmental disaster that happened on 9/11.


Other thoughts

The homage and hope elements should be done in a landscape of beautiful parkland using differences in elevation, rocks and waterfalls (running water is known to have calming effects on people), lovely flowers in every season, evergreens for winter, species from the countries of those who died.  Solar power can be used to power the waterfalls (as is done in my community garden).  Sheer beauty that is alive amidst the buildings of lower Manhattan will be an oasis and retreat for many years to come.  By stark contrast, rebuilding huge office buildings will encourage everyone to FORGET what happened.  Office buildings are cold and dead.  No one would think about anything but today's business and the bottom line.  Tall office buildings will just endanger more lives, since it's clear we cannot evacuate them reliably.  A museum should be erected inside the bathtub with the landscape on top, as was done for Bryant park over the library archives.


Key Rebuilding Element Questions



Parkland and transit are at the top of my list.  Pull LIRR or Metro North in if you can.  At least link up the subways and PATH.

Put the office space in Jersey City, where many new buildings are already being built to replace the office space lost.  Build some residential space and stores, but don't use much of the site for that.  Restore the bike path that connects the Battery to Albany.  Bury West St. to increase access to the water, and to provide more space for parkland.  Watchwords:  Safety over Beligerence.


Citizen Input

You have allowed input, BUT you have failed to clarify to those participating, the difference between vengeance and malice against the terrorists AND Love for the people lost, the understanding of what happened and how to avoid what happened repeating itself in the future.  This should have been done at the outset, being clearer about other memorials and their purposes.  You should start by asking basic questions.  What should people FEEL when they enter the memorial.  Sadness? Love?  Hatred?   What should people want to do as a result of experiencing the memorial?   Volunteer for society?  Remember and learn?  Work to avoid future environmental problems?  Kill the Bastards?  The slide show was done at the university level, showing all sorts of deep symbolism, which probably went over most peoples' heads.  You have to get down to the personal level of your audience.