The Mayor's Plan

The mayor’s plan essentially creates two different memorials.

On the North Tower footprint:

Approximately 2,400 victims will be listed in "no discernable order," that is, visitors will see rows and rows of uninterrupted, evenly spaced names without ages. There will be nothing to indicate who they were, where they were and how they were connected to each other. Visitors looking at the North Tower names will not see that the attack wiped out 658 friends and co-workers from one company alone, Cantor Fitzgerald, that 295 were lost at Marsh & McLennan, that Aon lost 175. Visitors could assume that all 2,400 worked for the same company, or that they didn't work at all. Who they were, where they were and how they were connected is deemed a distraction from the designer‘s overarching concept of the “randomness of death.” None of the names will be in alphabetical order; they will appear random. People with identical names (yes, there are victims with exactly the same name), will simply appear to be listed twice with no explanation.

On the South Tower footprint:

In stark contrast to the list of 2,400 unaffiliated names of the North Tower, the South Tower will meticulously list the affiliations (more than 120) of the 406 first responders and uniformed services personnel. They will be listed and identified with their brother firefighters and fellow officers, but will be stripped of their ranks, as will the clergy. Father Mychal Judge, the first member of the FDNY to die that morning, will not be identified to future generations as a chaplain. Likewise, members of our U.S. armed forces who died in the Pentagon will not be identified by rank or branch of service. Army and Navy officers, soldiers and sailors, all of whom were posthumously awarded Purple Hearts in recognition that they died in the service of their country in an act of war will be stripped of their ranks. The mayor is insisting that they be listed as civilians.

Those who died on the planes will be grouped together, however, the airline crews--paramilitary professionals who were the “first responders” in the air, will not be identified, as if the planes were flown and staffed by, well, no one. The airplanes will not be named as we know them, as “American” and “United” flights, because according to the mayor, listing corporate identities is “a form of advertising.” The memorial will list flight numbers only: “11, 77, 93 and 175.”

And so, what we are left with is two sets of victims, those in the North Tower footprint who will not be identified in any way that conveys a sense of humanity or context, but instead serving to sustain the designer’s concept that they all died randomly and alone. This, to us, is not how anyone in America viewed them, except perhaps, the terrorists who killed them.

The second set of victims are the valiant first responders, who, appropriately, will be listed by precinct, squad, engine or ladder company, but whose essential identity as “firefighter” “lieutenant” “captain” “chief” will be omitted. Thus, visitors to the memorial will be deprived of seeing that officers didn’t order their men into those buildings, they led them in, and died with them. Future generation will not see that the city’s first responders were decimated, and yet, we recovered. We survived. We rebuilt. We cannot be inspired by a memorial that refuses to tell the public the narrative history through the people who died and overcame.

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