Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and days of auld lang syne ?
For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we’ll take a cup of kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.
Traditions like New Year’s Eve in Times Square connect us to the ever-receding past. The plaintive “Auld Lang Syne” grows more bittersweet with every passing year. Even while we are brimming with hope for the future, the past tugs at our hearts and we tug back. We don’t want to forget — even when it hurts — and it always does. But tradition seems to have no place at Ground Zero, where there is a constant struggle between those who are honor-bound to remember and those who seem determined to forget.
It is not a fair fight, because at the WTC the power is concentrated in the hands of those who want to forget — or at least who seem to want us to forget. Why else would the marketing materials for the new office towers refer to the Memorial grounds merely as a campus? Why else would officials banish the indestructible Koenig Sphere and its eternal flame from the site, and literally bury the museum and its artifacts underground? Because they are trying to buffer the brutality of 9/11, so we can all get back to business as usual.
Such a contrived and controversial agenda should have been thoroughly aired and debated in the press. Instead, whatever influence the public has been granted has come grudgingly at best. For instance, few people realize that the names that surround the waterfalls — the most powerful aspect of the Memorial — were originally meant to appear 70 feet underground, along with everything else. Only when 9/11 families and friends kept a three-week sidewalk vigil during the Winter of 2005, outside the fire house across from the site, did officials finally relent.
But now officials are happy to take the credit, as if the plaza level tribute were always part of their design. Imagine the Memorial plaza without those names. It shouldn’t require such sacrifice to get things done right. But without an engaged media we can’t have an informed public and we do not have an engaged media. The many irregularities at the site testify to that. The Times in particular has only minimally reported on what is really happening at Ground Zero. The country’s “paper of record” has left almost no record at all on these matters.
Even after seven years of investigation and outreach we certainly do not think we have all the answers, but we do think we have all the questions. We have no doubt that if the public eye were focused on the questions officials have so successfully deflected and the media have ignored, people would be deeply troubled to learn that most of their assumptions regarding the site are unfounded. At the same time, all the evidence of public support for raising 21st-century Twin Towers has gone unreported.
The emotional and spiritual costs are incalculable, while the material costs are stunning. The Port Authority, which owed very little towards the rebuilding of the site following the attacks, has saddled the public with most of the rebuilding costs, while Silverstein Properties has apparently managed to extract even their original downpayment for the Towers from the project — building their brand at the public’s expense.
This piece barely scratches the surface of the irregularities that somehow escaped the media’s notice. Even when journalists with the credibility of Joe Nocera of the New York Times and Nicole Gelinas of the City Journal called the project into question, the lack of follow up by their fellow journalists was shocking. MORE…
The New York Observer
The New York Post