On Brian Lehrer’s WNYC show this morning, guest host Marty Goldenson and guests talked about the 9/11 tapes and then the 9/11 memorial, recounting the controversy about putting the International Freedom Center and the Drawing Center there and then limiting — censoring — what they could say. I felt compelled to call in and said that though I don’t speak for the 9/11 families, I am with them here and wanted to make it clear that no one is saying these centers should not be built — but they should not be built there. Pataki, Bloomberg, and the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. bought themselves this peck of trouble when they decided that this is a place for political debate. It is not. It is a place for a memorial.
It so happens that this weekend, I exchanged email with Debra Burlingame, who has led familes on this, trying to maintain the memorial as the memorial. We both talked about how hard — but necessary — it was to hear the just-released 9/11 tapes. My comments here (nevermind the troll’s comments). Debra wrote:
The recent release of thousands of pages of FDNY survivor transcripts and audio recordings of radio transmissions bring the reality of that day back. I have to steel myself to listen to the audio. I only read three of the transcripts before I had to stop. They are very tough to read. These people struggled so hard to stay alive, to help others get out. And they struggled in the dark, choking and bleeding, to find their way to safety and light. How can anyone read these accounts and still think their stories should be hidden underground, in the dark–for all eternity–at Ground Zero?
We continue to believe that the story of 9/11 will inspire people from all over the world. We believe that the a 9/11 museum which shows this simple contrast–between the destruction wrought by religious fanaticism and the saving grace of brotherly love–will win more “hearts and minds” than any grandiose symposia put on by politicians, activists and academics at an International Freedom Center.
My latest post on the IFC here.