Saturday, March 28, 2009
Standing in the middle of City Hall Park one notices how closed of to the public some of New York's buildings are. There are gates, security booths, and tire spikes all in place to keep the undesired away. This is a far stretch from Toronto's city hall, where visitors are welcomed and encouraged with festival after festival. Perhaps things in this city are not always what they seem to be.
It is only a few blocks away that the most notorious event in American history transpired. On September 11t 2001, two planes collided with the World Trade Center, reducing them to rubble. The world watched on, helpless to do anything but view as the horror transpired.
Today, nearly eight years later, ground zero still remains. Cranes and construction vehicles stand behind boarded up fences. Worked walk in and out, allowing for brief glimpses beyond the veil. A memorial museum stands just outside the site.
Seven years ago, I was touched by the event – made to feel as it cut through the emotional barricades we all have, in order to keep the world at bay. And yet today, though unsure as to what I expected, I feel nothing. Nothing but a sense of subtle outrage.
To me, as an outsider, ground zero seems to be nothing more than exploitation of the American Spirit. Eight years ago, I shed tears for the people who fell – today there is nothing but an aging construction project hidden away from the public eye, a poster featuring some of the fallen, two lone candles, and a museum whose entry fee is far higher than it need be.
The towers should have already been rebuilt, and yet it seems the work has just begun. London, Tokyo, even Hiroshima rebuilt after their disasters, and yet here – where an iconic symbol fell – no progress has been made.
Though, never fully stated, I am left with the feeling that the city wants to use this wreckage as a rallying point around which wars can be waged. Were the new tower to be completed, people might start to move on with their lives, no longer obsessing over the past. While I do not think these moments should ever be forgotten, the five year old who – in excitement – wanted to watch the construction while playing with his own Tonka Toys alerted me to how many people have started to view this site as something else.
Were the new tower to be built, images and references could no longer be directed at this site. No longer could a war in Iraq (never mind the fact they were not involved in the 2001 attacks) be accepted by a view of the damage.
Perhaps this is not the case. As I said, I am only an outside observer. Still, I find it hard to imagine how a building one kilometer high could be built in Dubai, quicker than the Freedom tower could be put up.
And as for the museum? Why not offer access to the stories, letters, and pictures within free of charge – or with donation? If one really wants stories to live on, there should be no price tag associated with them.