Look to the Affected Communities for Guidance
By Thomas H. Rogér
No event in the history of this nation has affected our perception of our basic institutions more than the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001. This attack included cowardly acts of terrorism, aimed at innocent people representing citizens from over 80 different nations. The resulting death of my daughter Jean Rogér, who was a flight attendant on American flight #11, along with the other 3,041 people in New York, Washington DC, and Pennsylvania, has ravaged my family and thousands of other families such that we will forever bear the scars of having our loved ones viciously taken from us.
In the context of this discussion of the tragic events of September 11, 2001, how is it possible to create a suitable memorial at the same time that a community must rebuild itself both economically and emotionally? The process that allows these opposing needs to be clearly expressed, unified in spirit, and constructed into a memorial starts with the responses of the communities in which the attacks occurred. These are stories where the terror and horror of the attacks was quickly counterbalanced with the heroism, compassion and unity through the response of the nation and the world.
Families, survivors and the public as expressed through a variety of formal and informal discussions and representative groups want the memorial and other building within the "Memorial Complex" to have the following characteristics. It should be:
- a place of remembrance with symbols and displays that are enduring in form and content and appropriate to the culture and environment of New York and our nation;
- a place of peace with a quiet and peaceful setting where visitors have the opportunity for reflection. It should also serve to promote the concept of world peace;
- a place of spirituality which should speak to the unity of the community and the nation and the unselfish sacrifices of volunteers and support workers that were so evident following the attack;
- a place that provides an atmosphere of hope and comfort to visitors and offers some sense of the optimism that resided in the unfulfilled dreams of those who died and the need of the surviving families to retain their cherished memories;
- a place that provides recognition to those who helped during all phases of this event the rescue workers who died during their attempts to save people in the buildings, the unsung heroes within the airplanes who helped those in need without regard for their own safety; and those who worked tirelessly to rescue the survivors and recover the remains.
- a place which includes a museum and educational center that would provide a "living memorial" where people can research and understand the senselessness of terrorism.
The process that will allow these goals for the Memorial to be achieved is being facilitated by the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation with assistance from numerous advisory councils. To date, the initial site concepts developed by the Port Authority have been flawed in that they were constrained by an unreasonable building program. It is hoped that new concepts will emerge through a more open planning process, which will allow more creative consideration of the various uses that may coexist on the site while maintaining the ability to create a high quality and respectful memorial. An international design competition planned for the memorial should allow creative consideration of how best to achieve its specific goals.
Rogér is VP & Director, Families of September 11, and a member of the LMDC Families Advisory Council