Retiring Gannett columnist Bob Baird listed some defining issues in his last column. Under the heading WTC ISSUES he wrote: “It is a national disgrace that the ashes of World Trade Center victims, including scores from Rockland, remain in a Staten Island landfill, mingled with common garbage. And it’s a national nightmare, predicted by WTC families, that we recently learned remains of victims at the Pentagon also went to a landfill. More recently, we learned that remains of some of our war dead were sent to a Virginia landfill. Our delegation to Congress should immediately introduce legislation making it a federal crime to deposit remains of any American killed in war or terrorism anywhere but a national cemetery or another cemetery of their loved ones’ choosing.”
How did this become such a slobby society? What good is a media that can’t manage to convey issues that clearly concern every one of us and that reflect so badly on our entire nation? Why have 9/11 Families been left to fight this fight alone? The Twin Towers Alliance has written and spoken out against the degradation, but the proliferation of commentary on the Internet is misleading, because if the mainstream media don’t cover an issue, it is still unlikely to get enough oxygen to make a difference.
The New York Times was founded on the premise of “All the news that’s fit to print” in reaction to a press that preferred to peddle the sensational, instead of the information free people need to exercise their prerogatives. If only the nation’s “paper of record” had hammered away at this issue, or “60 Minutes” had done a segment, it wouldn’t still be such a secret today.
What can we get right, if we can’t correct something so wrong? It is not a matter of convenience or economy — it is a question of bedrock morality. All of the confusion and misunderstanding surrounding the many WTC issues are the by-product of lack of good information. Why? We have so much going for us. But we seem to be losing our grip on what counts.