Volume 20 Issue 12 | August. 3 - 9, 2007

Some families demand 9/11 ceremony at W.T.C.

As somber 9/11 family members gathered at Zuccotti Park at noon on Wednesday, Aug. 1, they faced a press group with more people than their own. Despite the small turnout, the family members had come to announce big actions, the filing for a permit to have their own remembrance ceremonies on 9/11, in the actual ground zero site itself.

The group proposed utilizing four areas: The steel bridge into the construction site to read names, the parking area at West and Liberty Sts. for storage and flower distribution, an area at the base of the ramp to place flowers, and, finally, a continuous, moving “circle of life” procession on the bedrock of the construction site.

The Port Authority, which owns the World Trade Center site, and the mayor want the ceremony to be held across the street at Zuccotti Park because of the safety issues of bringing people into an active construction site.

The Port is considering a way to let family members on the perimeter of the site at street level but so far seem unwilling to allow anyone to go down to the bedrock level.

Norman Siegel, the family group’s lawyer, said that he had walked the site just the day before, with the group’s “safety expert,” a professor at John Jay College.

“What we filed this morning proposed three locations in the construction site that have all been used in the past,” said Siegel. “If we can assume that there will be no actual construction going on that day [9/11], then there will be no safety concern.”

Rosaleen Tallon was one of a handful that spoke passionately at the press conference, asking to go to what she considers her firefighter brother’s grave.

“When there’s bones still there, it is still a cemetery,” she said. “I want to be where my brother gave his life.”

Steve Sigmund, a Port spokesperson, said the authority was doing all it can to accommodate family members.

“As an agency that lost 84 friends and colleagues on September 11, the Port Authority is sensitive to the needs of those who lost loved ones,” he said in a prepared statement.  “We are actively looking at ways to accommodate family members who want to pay their respects on the World Trade Center site on 9/11, but the substantial construction activity and current site conditions will not allow the formal ceremony to be safely conducted on the site.”

Still, the family members are resolute, saying that if need be, they plan to take their case to federal court

— Lucas Mann

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