After taking an online 9/11 survey (which can be viewed at www.takebackthememorial.org), I found the results rather unsurprising. The question posed is quite simple: “If given a choice between building a ‘cultural arts center’ or building the 9/11 Memorial and 9/11 Memorial Museum at the World Trade Center site, which would you choose?”
The results of the survey (at least as of the time I am writing this on 11/13/2005 at 7:17pm New York time) were as follows:
-4,105 or 99% for building the 9/11 Memorial and 9/11 Memorial Museum
– 27 or 1% for building the cultural arts center
Why do I find these results unsurprising? Because as most New Yorkers know, the last thing we need is a “cultural arts center” in lower Manhattan. When I think of all the “culture” that is available on the rest of this tiny island, (anyone the least bit familiar with my wonderful city knows that it is overflowing with museums, theatres, and galleries) it seems sadly out of touch with the needs of the victims’ families and all New Yorkers to press for such a venue in the sacred place known as Ground Zero.
The problem is that there is yet another battle to be fought. As noted by Robert Shurbet, founder of Take Back the Memorial, “This is a crucial time. It now appears that the desires of New York’s cultural elite may be competing head-to-head with the 9/11 Memorial & Memorial Museum for a very limited amount of funds.
“While the LMDC (Lower Manhattan development Corporation) has repeatedly said that the Memorial will take fund raising precedence, it is hard to believe that is what will happen when they are handing out $35 million federal dollars (your money) in the form of grants ‘to existing and new cultural institutions downtown.’”
So there is great concern for the money at stake, especially since currently only one fifth of the necessary funds to build the 9/11 Memorial has been raised. What the victims’ families fear is that other constituencies with powerful connections and bulging pocketbooks will circumvent the memorial fundraising process with copious amounts of cash to bankroll their own vested interests.
If this occurs, and the “cultural elite” get their way, something rather repugnant might take the place of the respectful and dignified plans for Ground Zero. The results in that case will be horrendous, for any structure that is not an eternal memorial and museum honoring those lost on 9/11 will be nothing but sacrilege.
Now it is your turn. Take a moment to visit the site and vote. You can also leave comments and, if you wish to do so, let me know how you have voted. Which ever way you plan to vote, it is important to think of what is most salient here. Would you have voted for an arts center to be erected at Dachau or Auschwitz so dilettantes could sip wine while listening to chamber music? Would you have voted for a similar venue to be constructed at Pearl Harbor over the site of the doomed Arizona?
I voted for the 9/11 Memorial and 9/11 Memorial Museum because by remembering those who died on September 11, 2001, in such a necessary and compelling manner, we will also make certain that Americans and people all over the world will never forget what happened that day. As a New Yorker and an American, I know that will be a meaningful legacy for generations to come.