Volume 16 • Issue 15 | September 9 - 15, 2003


Some thoughts for 9/11/03 and beyond

Two years after that awful day, most of us continue to think of it as a time when the world changed forever and we as individuals changed along with it. That may always be our view.

For those who lost someone they loved, the day‘s pain will always be profound, but it is our hope that as time marches forward, the pain will become less all-consuming and the joys of life will be able to be celebrated more. It seems fitting to have a less busy, more personal marking of the anniversary in 2003. Officials should be praised for listening to the desires of many family members. The needs of family members are also in tune with many others who don’t feel the need to join the crowd to remember. But those who draw comfort from a more communal type of remembrance will have appropriate places to go Downtown Sept. 11.

In addition to the personal loss, the Sept. 11 attacks left many of us with a sense of jitter that gets reinforced all-too-often by things like blackouts, reports of possible subway terror, and even loud noises. The anxieties many of us live with do not take the pleasure of life away, but they do make it harder to find. We can look, if we must, to the example of a country like Israel, where people are often able to forge ahead despite periods when daily acts of terror persist.

We hope that our sense of jitter is not a life sentence. We can draw comfort from the fact that even though we know that there are violent Islamic fundamentalists who would like nothing better than to strike us at home, they have not done so in two years. Progress against terrorism appears to have been made on the domestic front — our borders seem better protected and our police work more vigilant. But we have scant confidence that the international approach of the Bush administration is making America safer.

As we handle our internal anxieties, the anniversary naturally draws us to think about the rebuilding of Lower Manhattan — particularly around the World Trade Center site — and the post 9/11 evolution of our neighborhoods. Lower Manhattan continues to attract residents, an encouraging development. But our small businesses are still suffering, caught in an interregnum period when grant monies have mostly dried up, but before the replacement infrastructure of Lower Manhattan is built and commercial activity and employment rekindled. Many small businesses are ceasing operations – twenty in Tribeca alone in the last few months — and many more will undoubtedly find the next couple of years very trying. Our leaders must continue to work to find new ways to assist small businesses during this critical period.

This fall a memorial to the victims of the 2001 attack and the 1993 W.T.C. bombing will be chosen by a 13-member jury – an impressive group with many accomplished people. The single most important thing about the memorial is that it be a beautiful and inspirational place to remember all those who lost their lives.

The memorial must fit in well with the rest of architect Daniel Libeskind’s plan for the site – a plan which appropriately, allows a large area, 4.7 acres, for the memorial and an adjacent museum devoted to interpreting the meaning of 9/11. If the memorial is seen as an obstacle to the hundreds of thousands of workers and residents who will walk by it every day, it will be a failure. When we see the final design options for the memorial, we should not only imagine what it will feel like to visit it on a mild September day, but what will it be like during one of those blizzards that seemed to come every week last winter. Could providing weather protection also present opportunities to expand the currently unimaginable beauty of the memorial and improve the access nearby?

Designs like that which satisfy many needs and inspire are the type we hope to see this fall.

This week is a time to remember in our own way — or not — if that makes it easier to get to Sept. 18.


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