Volume 16 • Issue 37 | February 13 - 19, 2004

Letters to the Editor

Gerson and housing

To The Editor:
Re: “Kerry wins Downtown support” (news article, Feb.6 - 12):

In your article, City Councilmember Alan Gerson states that he “wants to hear more about the candidates’ positions on affordable housing and urban issues before he endorses in New York’s March 2 primary.”

Perhaps Gerson should practice what he preaches and broadcast to the world on what exactly is his position on decent, intergraded and permanently affordable housing on the underdeveloped portion of the Seward Park Urban Renewal Site for low, moderate and middle income families. Based on what I have read and personally heard, Gerson sings to a different tune depending upon who his audience is.

I do not agree with everyone on every issue, but I respect a person who can formulate, articulate, and defend their position regardless of their stand. The thousands of families who reside in public housing and who cast their votes for him expect nothing less.
Roberto Caballero
President, Lower East Side Political Action Committee

Remembering firefighters

To The Editor:
There is much I agree with in David Stanke’s article, “Changes to W.T.C. memorial altar a good design” (Talking Point, Jan. 23 –29), particularly the absurdity of placing artifacts that scream for natural light in a basement, which is where we put things that we want to forget about.

Which leads me to my disagreements. His second paragraph is a very precise critique of “Reflecting Absence,” and as such it also explains why it is so wrong as a memorial for Sept. 11. Additionally, it explains why the simple and honest request that the sacrifice of the firefighters be at least acknowledged was dismissed with a token.

Sept. 11 left us with far more than emptiness and minimalism and symbolism cannot express that. The sacrifice of men like my brother, Capt. William F. Burke, Jr. of Eng. 21 who knew the terrible danger they willingly placed themselves in and who did not abandon their duty even when they realized that danger had graduated to a new, unimaginable level is nowhere in the design. They reminded us that there is that more precious than life. In perfect contrast to the evil and hate the terrorists brought, the arrogance of knowing what absolute truth is and what God wants, granting them, of course, the right to fly an airplane full of people into buildings full of people, the firefighters brought love for their fellow human beings and the humble faith that in ascending those stairs to the fire things would somehow come out right.

These are not truths that the memorial should simply leave to voids that we might fill with; this is what the memorial should convey, particularly so visitors of future generations will know what happened.

However, since there is nothing of this in Michael Arad’s design, why not simply dismiss the firefighters’ sacrifice with a token “near” their names randomly placed? (No rank, and not with the fire company of men they served and died with). Even Arad has not recommended anything more.

Add to this a governor who has either forgotten or more likely, never truly appreciated their sacrifice, and a handful of influential families with an apparently boundless ingratitude who demanded that those who gave their lives to save their loved ones not even be identified and we are left with a memorial absent of magnificent humanity exhibited Sept.11. What they did comforted, reassured and inspired us in the darkest hour shared. We all remember it; but it is not in this memorial.

Michael Burke

Sea salts, not celebs

To The Editor:
I laughed out loud when I read Downtown Express’ description of New York Nautical as a “celebrity marine store” (news brief, Jan. 30 - Feb. 5, “Nautical move”).

Any sailor would confirm it’s more likely this venerable source of all things navigational has been in business for a century because, e.g., when you walk in and ask for a chart of Tokyo Bay, the response is, “In English or Japanese?” (As I recall, further choices follow.)

The last thing I’d have thought to look for in this least frivolous of Downtown stores is some silly Twinkie.

Diane Fisher

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