Always Remembered, Always Revered

BY BOBBY HALTON

Note: The following are updated e-mail addresses for letting Mr. Joe Daniels or Ms. Alice Greenwald know that you would like to have one flag for each individual who died at the World Trade Center on 9/11 flying at the new World Trade Center site:  joe@national911memorial.org; agreenwald@sept11mm.org. The generic address is info@national911memorial.org.
Americans are said to have short memories. Tragically, very few remember some horrific events in our history. For example, May 18, 1927, was a day of unspeakable terrorism when Andrew Kehoe killed 46 people, including 38 schoolchildren, in Bath, Michigan, because he opposed school taxes. However, we can never forget the chilling words of Timothy McVeigh that the innocent children killed in The Murrah Building were “collateral damage.” Some may have forgotten the innocents slaughtered by Kehoe, but thanks to the beautiful, reverent, and inspiring memorial built in Oklahoma City, we will never forget the innocent children and our fellow Americans murdered on April 19, 1995.

Looking at the empty chairs that face the reflecting pool in Oklahoma City, each one representing a life taken (large chairs for the adults and small chairs for the children), we instantly recognize the enormity of that horrific day. As we journey through that beautiful memorial, we can see each one of their faces presented respectfully, giving us a glimpse into their lives and crystallizing the tragedy of their murders.

Today, the details of the 9/11 WTC Memorial and Museum are starting to emerge. These details command that firefighters stand up and be the voice for this entire nation in demanding that America’s 9/11 Memorial be done correctly, reverently, and respectfully.

In the memorial plans are tragic mistakes that must be corrected. For example, although each one of those lives lost on 9/11 at the Pentagon, at Shanksville, and in New York will be inscribed on parapets surrounding two waterfalls and pools representing the footprints of the Twin Towers, the victims’ ages will not be provided. Also, the names will be randomly placed, making it very difficult to find individual names. Disturbingly, uniformed personnel, including the 343 members of the Fire Department of New York, will not be listed with their rank. It will not say Chief of Department Peter Ganci, Father Mychal Judge, or Deputy Chief Ray Downey; no, it was decided that this would create a “hierarchy of death.” This is the epitome of political correctness run wildly amuck. Meritorious attainment of a designation such as Dr., CEO, Chief, or Reverend does not create a hierarchy of death but rather recognizes achievements in lives well lived.

In addition, the 9/11 museum—primarily underground—plans to present “a river of faces” in a “memorial exhibition.” Unbelievably, this consists of small photographs of the victims, stacked one on the other, the top row of photos 12 feet above floor level, in a giant mosaic. To get information on one of the victims, you need to go to a computer in one of three kiosks. These stolen lives are not a “river of faces”; they are individuals who are entitled to have their photos and their lives recognized individually and respectfully, not catalogued in a kiosk that will be difficult to access at best.

Ironically, the terrorists are going to be given their own corridor, their photos to be at eye level with their martyrdom quotes, and artifacts such as one of the terrorists’ visas, for all to see. This cannot be allowed to happen while the innocent victims are treated as some nameless group in “a river of faces.” Nowhere in this museum’s plans will you find the individual victims’ artifacts of life on display, such as a pair of running shoes or a child’s favorite storybook (photos of these artifacts are also relegated to the three kiosks). Decency mandates we put the murderers’ information on a kiosk so that this offensive garbage does not have to be viewed by those of us who would rather never have to look at their horrible images again or be disgusted by their vile comments.

There are also plans to place nearly 10,000 unidentified human remains behind a memorial wall inside the lowest level of the museum with a plaque identifying the location of the remains. This plan is considered by international protocols and museum professionals to be highly unethical, unorthodox, and improper since the 2,749 affected families were never consulted about and never consented to this plan. The nation expects and deserves a dignified tomb at ground level, accessible to all so that we can forever pay our respects. It should be a stand-alone monument similar to the tomb of the Unknown Soldier. It should be staffed by an honor guard as we do for our unknown soldier, as a national symbol of our loss that day and of the sacrifices and the honor shown by our fallen. The unidentified remains of those lost on 9/11 must not be a “programmatic element” of the museum, making the sacred human remains one of the “exhibits” in the museum.

The final flaw in these deeply flawed plans is that one solitary American flag is to be flown at the site. We must insist that a flag be flown for every individual who fell that day, representing every nation that suffered a loss. One flag for each of the fallen—that is the least we can do. We should ring this hollowed ground with a wall of flags.

Each of us must e-mail a letter immediately to Mr. Joe Daniels at JDaniels@September11MM.org and Ms. Alice Greenwald at agreenwald@September11MM.org. We must demand that all uniformed personnel have their rank appear with their name. We must demand that everyone be treated as an individual with their biography and personal artifacts displayed, that their humanity be respected. We must demand that an aboveground tomb, a national monument, be erected to house the humanity that remains unidentified. We must have the terrorists’ information moved to a location away from those we honor. We must demand that our flag and the flag of every nation who lost a citizen that day fly over the site so that we always remember reverently the individuals murdered on 9/11. To do any less is immoral, cowardly, and disrespectful. Simply, any less is un-American.

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