The Washington Post
Wrong ways to memorialize
Why was it necessary to say in the Jan. 4 obituary for Alexander Garvin, “Urban planner guided Ground Zero rebuilding,” that “his parents were Jewish immigrants from Latvia”? The Post doesn’t say, “Her parents were Catholic immigrants from Ireland.”
Jean Brodsky Bernard, Chevy Chase
The Jan. 4 obituary for Alexander Garvin stated, “Mr. Garvin believed redevelopment projects should not be imposed from above by all-powerful public officials or architects. Instead, they should develop from the ground up, reflecting the needs of local residents, office workers, commuters and business owners.”
At Ground Zero, this is exactly what did not happen. And it means a large portion of the site fails as an asset to its community and New York City and as honoring the memory of Sept. 11, 2001.
The design of the dominant feature of the site — the eight-acre, billion-dollar memorial — was rejected by thousands of on-site and online public meeting attendees by nearly 2 to 1. The public overwhelmingly called for the memorial to include some authentic artifact that speaks directly to the site’s history, as the USS Arizona Memorial and the Hiroshima Peace Memorial do.
This was ignored. Rather, all-knowing, handpicked academics and well-connected officials imposed a financially unsupportable “minimalist” memorial that intentionally remade the site so that it does not acknowledge its history so that visitors may, in the words of the architect, think about 9/11 “or not.”
And they don’t. They check messages and play games on their phones and pose as though they are at Disney. However, they cannot be criticized for disrespecting the history of the site when the memorial was specifically chosen because it does not respect this history.
Furthermore, now in the evenings, to save money, the waterfalls are turned off, rendering two massive, inert pits, and the memorial is, unbelievably, roped off from the public — leaving the site to fail in essentially every way.
At Ground Zero, vanity replaced duty, good sense and efficiency.
Michael Burke, New York The writer, whose brother, Capt. William F. Burke Jr., died in the response to the Twin Towers attack, led the effort to return Fritz Koenig’s damaged sculpture “The Sphere” to the World Trade Center site.