The good news is that the plans for the memorial at the World Trade Center are still in place. Even better news is that, according to today’s NY Daily News, $100 million has been donated thus far for construction of the memorial. The $500 million goal for the total cost of the memorial is a long way from being realized, and the 2009 date for the memorial to be unveiled is coming faster than seems possible.
Some necessary components for the memorial, ones that have concerned family and friends of victims, are still in place as envisioned by architect Michael Arad. The tree-lined plaza will feature two large pools with constantly flowing water (even in winter as mentioned in the News). These pools will actually mark the footprints of the towers, which many believe is sacred space. The pools will be surrounded by trees, making this a lush, green space for reflection and prayer.
The other good news is the enormous “slurry wall” will continue to be visible. This wall holds back the Hudson River from pouring into Ground Zero, and it has also taken on a rather sacrosanct place in the hearts of victims’ families. In many ways, it reminds me of The Wailing Wall in Jerusalem. The wall here in New York like the one in Israel was once part of something much larger and significant as a symbol (the wall in Jerusalem is all that is left of Solomon’s massive temple). The “slurry wall” has taken on that kind of mystique as a remnant of that which was sacred and destroyed by evil forces.
There is also a sense of harmony in the plans for the site. While it will be a green space, the plan is for it not to be a place for Frisbee throwing or roller blading. This will be a dignified spot, one where people can walk and think and reflect twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, three hundred and sixty-five days a year. That is more than fitting for a memorial that will mark the worst attack on American soil in our history.
Of course, the controversy is far from over. This is still a sixteen acre site, and the development of commercial and office space on this sacred spot is still a source of contention. In the end the people’s needs must come before that of big business and corporations. If nothing else, 9/11 has taught us the hard lesson that what matters most is not profits but people. Let’s hope no one with the power to make decisions about Ground Zero ever forgets this painful lesson.