Comments on the Analysis and Recommendations on the WTC Memorial Plan

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

The report submitted by Mr. Sciame is part and parcel of the uniformly mistaken and disgraceful process by which the plans for restoration of the World Trade Center site have been developed since the attacks of 2001.

Time and again we see the pattern:

Thus we have this effort at tinkering with the Reflecting Absence plan,while committing not to revisit its flaws,the flaws in the memorial design competition that required those flaws,the flaws in the Master Plan that required those flaws,or the basic mistaken priorities that mandated only bad Master Plan submissions be considered.

The immediate impetus to this reevaluation,which is being undertaken with the highest priority being given to preventing the next Governor from having time to undo Governor Pataki's mistakes,is the revelation of the spiralling costs of Reflecting Absence.

We were initially told there would be public hearings,but official concern that the runaway train that is the appalling official design process might be brought under control rather than assured of generating the hideous urban blight that it promises has led to there only being a tiny comment window.

So Mr. Sciame is left to metaphorically put lipstick on a warthog and pretend the result is attractive.He makes clear,however,in his excerpts from the prior documents and in his later discussions,that the mistakes that officialdom has demanded will be made even if more cheaply.

Reflecting Absence is committed to perpetuating and highlighting the absence of the Twin Towers,and this is,no matter what may be vainly claimed by anyone,a reprehensible empowerment of the authors of the mass murder of September 11th 2001 and the very antithesis of honor to those whom they slaughtered.Few acts of surrender in the history of Western civilization have been as outrageous as the promise by Governor Pataki that the Twin Tower footprints would be kept as empty of the purposes for which the victims lived and died as commanded by Osama bin Laden.

To ask future generations of Americans to see,and enable future generations of their enemies to celebrate,the success of terrorism in removing great icons of America from where they stood is beyond reprehensible.How many future attacks may be inspired by those footprints being left as gaping wounds on New York's cityscape?

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.

Though we are told "the memorial must come first",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.

The official insistence that the "memorial quadrant" be divided from the rest of the site by active streets nullifies the pretense that the "Freedom Tower" and other commercial structures show "resilience"... 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.

In recasting the memorial in a more appropriate as well as more affordable form,Mr. Sciame does not raise,undoubtedly because he was forbidden to raise,the possibilities of removing the streets or reducing the surface space consumed by the memorial,that the World Trade Center site be restored to the integrity violated by the terrorists.

Nor does he offer any complaint,no doubt because he was forbidden to complain,that 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.In contrast 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.Only in muted neutrality does he mention that the issue of name format remains open.

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.

We need an appropriate memorial...and it is in our demonstrating the power of mass murderers to diminish New York and America,not in our demonstrating the strength of our resolve to rebuild structures of the same purpose and greater size and strength than those destroyed by the murderers of thousands,that "less is more".

The victims of September 11th 2001 will never be forgotten,but we must honor them in the historic and urban context of new generations carrying on in their footsteps,not their killers having created a dead space amid our lives forever.

Let the Tower footprints be shared with new Towers...let the spirits of the dead see that we were not driven away by their enemies as soldiers fleeing a battlefield never to fight for it again.

June 24,2006