A Letter to Gretchen Dykstra and Anyone Else at the World Trade Center Memorial Foundation Who May Read it

By Louis Epstein
R.D. 2,Carmel,New York 10512
Founder & Director,World Trade Center Restoration Movement

Do you truly not comprehend the intensity of the revulsion countless Americans feel toward the memorial you are promoting?

What is built on this site must before all else emphasize the strength of our recovery above the severity of our wounds,to show that the city, the nation,and the free world prevailed despite the horrible slaughter of that infamous day.You propose instead gaping wounds in the cityscape that send the opposite message,ostentatiously showcasing the killers' success in diminishing New York and America forever.

The attacks of September 11th 2001 were aimed at destroying the Twin Towers,and any redevelopment that amounts to the towers staying gone shows those whom the terrorists killed to have been on a losing side,not honors them.And by making a visible point of both Tower footprints remaining empty of the purposes to which and for which the victims gave their lives,it crosses the line from shameful acquiescence into actual complicity with the act of mass murder that killed them.

I have said for years that civilizations yet unimagined will point to the day history forgives Governor Pataki's unconscionable public pledge of obedience to Osama bin Laden's dictate that giant towers must never again stand there as the day the American spirit died.No one is fooled by the claim that resilience is shown by the construction of smaller buildings,not even on the same block,that cower away from the holes in fear...what is built on one side of a street in no way expresses rebuilding of something that was destroyed on the other side of the street.

The official planning process that gave us this memorial design has been an unending sequence of misguided priorities that required plans to be bad,followed by promotion of the plans resulting from them,regardless of the continuous expression of public dissatisfaction.And the fact that time has been wasted doing the wrong thing is claimed to mean there is no time to discard the plans and do the right thing when it only makes this more urgent.

We are told piously that "the memorial must come first",when the fact is that in seeking to honor those who died in the attacks rather than creating an embodiment of their killers' triumph, any memorial that "comes first",therefore fails.

We honor the dead by denying their killers the outcome they dreamed of, and allowing the dreams of the victims to be reclaimed by a new generation free to live,work,and visit every bit as high in the skies of which the terrorists would make us afraid.We honor the killers if we give their kind a place on the map to point to and say,"there used to be giant towers there,but we put an end to that...they never dared rebuild." And the message this sends may well inspire future attacks on other American landmarks...a mistake not made in the Pentagon rebuilding, where the memorial wisely does not "come first" but instead stands in the critical historical context of the murderous act of destruction being comprehensively,visibly reversed.

Not only does the proposed memorial leave the dead to be said of them "these are the people who had to die before we learned to obey Osama", but in randomly shuffling the names of the actual victims of the attack at the site with those of Pentagon and Shanksville victims who may never have visited Manhattan in their lives it violates the integrity and sanctity of all three sites by treating the fact of where someone died as nothing special.I am sure that you will find that those whose lives were taken by enemies of the Union on July 3rd 1863 who died at Gettysburg are honored at Gettysburg,and those who died at Vicksburg are honored at Vicksburg...not randomly shuffled at one of the places without regard to where they died.

Funds are not being raised for the infliction of this morbid wound on New York because people do not support it,just as the horrific Libeskind site plan it was designed to meet,and which was designed to meet the misguided official program requirements, finished last in the official public poll of the planning process,where "Neither" handily defeated both of the two proposed plans so bad that they were "finalists".

Continuing on this misguided course honors no one worthy of honor but rather disgraces the entire free world and creates a trophy for the triumph of terror.No memorial that does not willingly stand in the shadow of undiminished new Towers can properly exalt those killed in an effort to destroy the Towers.

And you have threatened that once built,this memorial will blight the city and shame the nation "forever",with no opportunity to repent of the errors that created it.

I close with a personal statement.I am in my middle years and have no child...I may never have a child.And if I leave no heir,it is hard to think of a cause worthier than endowing a foundation that would hold out the hope that this memorial,if it is built, could one day be removed and replaced by something appropriate... or at a minimum forgivable.

The day we forgive this memorial is the day we lose our souls.

May 8,2006