Monday, September 26, 2005

The point of a memorial.

Hillary wants to "can" the International Freedom Center planned for Ground Zero. Good. I'm not inclined to give any small group, whether it be political correct planners or the families of the victims of 9/11, the right to define what should be built at Ground Zero. My preference would be to have the owners of the site construct more commercial buildings, with a small central part of the area devoted to a memorial of the events that destroyed the original World Trade Center. It should not be a political statement or primarily a tribute to those who died, although a tribute to those who responded would not be amiss. It should be a true memorial to help visitors remember what happened there and who was involved.

I don't know why people feel a need to turn every monument into a statement about or interpretation of an event. The purpose of a memorial is to bring events to remembrance. This close to the event, and in the climate of dispute over its meaning, it would be wise to focus on creating an accurate commemoration of the event itself, including a sense of the enormity of the shock, horror and brutality of the attack and the incredible bravery of those who responded to it. It should avoid questions of whether we brought it on ourselves or whether the war that followed was proper or properly strategized. Leave those things to those who visit.

The Vietnam Memorial is a good example. It does not make any overt statement about the reasons for or justice of the war or the way that it was ended. It just reminds us that it cost the lives of hundreds of thousands of ordinary people, individuals like everyone of those who visit it, and the many individual stories that could be told. Whether they were heroes, villains, dupes, victims or anything else is left to the thoughts of those who look at those names on that granite wall. In a way, this is a national grave marker for all of those who


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