The true 9/11 memorial

I just read a most wonderful story in The New York Times by Dan Barry about a mother who finally had the courage to look through the laptop owned by her daughter, who died in the World Trade Center on 9/11. I’m sorry that it is behind the TimesSelect wall but nevermind that. In that laptop, Ann Nelson’s mother found an unfinished list of the 100 things she wanted to accomplish. Barry writes:

36. Learn about wine.

Ann was supposed to attend a wine class the evening of Sept. 11….

After 36, there is a 37, but it is blank.

Mr. Nelson reads the list as an inventory of his daughter’s values. “You don’t see any Corvettes in the garage or any of those material things you might expect from someone that age,” he says. “She recognized that you appreciate a few things and kind of live your life wisely.”

Reading this made me wish that on the fifth anniversary of that day, The Times would return to some of the families who spoke in its Portraits of Grief series and book to see where they are today, to remind us of the individual lives lost, the innocents and heroes of that day. That is the best memorial I can imagine.

That is a more important memorial than the $1 billion it would take to build a huge monument in stone and water at the site of death. It’s not about the place. It’s about the people.

  • http://www.theport.com Greg

    Very much appreciate your perspective on RSS, Web 2.0 and the like. Was further impressed with your perspective on 9/11. So expressive. So on point. So brief. So rich. So patriotic. Here’s to you and the rest of us!

  • mark singer

    My son was murdered seven years ago, not yet nineteen, taken without reason, without cause, part of the heart is lost, to be retrieved in a later time, but living on, still with hope from those gone. Many of us wish all of you well, those left in the world after 9/11 without someone they love.

  • http://ruthcalvo ruth

    Good thought. Most especially, it would be good to see the remembrance of 9/11 humanized, returned to the victims, de-politicized.

  • http://robertdfeinman.com/society Robert Feinman

    I’ve always found the annual light memorial for 9/11 to be very moving. It echos the towers while seeming to offer some sense of hope for the future.

    I think keeping this as a regular feature and then putting up a modest memorial near the WTC site would be much better than burdening the area with an overdone structure. The most recent design is full of gray concrete and looks more like a prison than anything else. One reason the Viet Nam memorial is so affecting is because its simplicity allows the visitor to evoke their own feelings.

    If you’re interested in some images of the WTC as well some of the “Tribute of Light” you can view them on my web site (especially pages 3 and 4):

    Remembering the World Trade Center

  • http://tshalffull.blogspot.com/ Starbucker

    This great article did remind me of the Portriats of Grief series in the Times (as well as give me a huge dallop of prespective) – I remember reluctantly paging through to that section in the paper, knowing my heart was about to be ripped out many times over, but yet needing to know these back stories. I just didn’t want to de-personalize this tragedy. I agree with you – it’s not the new building, it’s those 3,000 people. Give us more of the Ann Nelsons and less of the architects visions. Thanks Jeff.

  • Jim Wilson

    Robert Feinman’s analogy with the Vietnam Memorial is a good one. Like Starbucker, who had difficulty reading the NYT portraits of grief, I find it difficult — but necessary — to revisit the Vietnam Memorial every once in a while (I live nearby) to remind myself of what that war did to us as a nation. The simplicity of the Memorial makes the fifty thousand names stand out better than any fancy building would. And I can walk right up to my best friend’s name and touch it.

    Jeff’s right: It IS all about the people.

  • http://www.thelosspill.com Mitchel

    God bless your daughter mother! Dont be griefsticken, i m your second one, always there for you.

  • Brian J

    The article on Ann Nelson has been republished here:
    http://www.voicesofsept11.org/artman/publish/article_003056.php

    Very touching, and extremely sad.

  • http://wtc911memorials.com George Ecker, PROGRAM Dir.

    ANN NELSON, WHOSE NAME APPEARS ENGRAVED ON THE FRONT PANELS ALONG WITH SIXTEEN OTHER WISCONSIN AFFILIATED 9/11 VICTIMS, AND THE 3030 VICTIM NAMES ENGRAVED ON THE OTHER FOUR SIDES OF THE PENTAGON SHAPED GRANITE BASE, WILL BE HONORED AT A SPECIAL 9/11 MEMORIAL SERVICE AND TRIBUTE, ON SUNDAY, SEPT. 10, 2006, 10 AM, AT THE GREEN BAY WIS, $ 250,000, 40 FEET HIGH, STAINLESS STEEL TWIN TOWER MEMORIAL, DEDICATED, JUNE 1, 2005.
    INCLUDED WILL BE THE PARTICPATION OF THE 9/11 VICTIM FAMILIES, A USAF FLYOVER, ORIGINAL 9/11 SONG BEING SUNG,
    PEACE DOVES RELEASE, GOVERNOR, CONGRESSMEN AND WOMEN SPEAKING, GB CITY MAYOR, COLOR GUARD, BAGPIPES, AND MORE.
    EVERYBODY IS WELCOME!

  • Ramey Becker

    Thank you folks for keeping the memory of the good that emerged on that horrific day alive! I just came from seeing the movie World Trade Center. I was deeply moved back to that day… feeling all the emotions all over again. I hear people talking about how it’s “too soon” for any of these movies. Perhaps it’s the fear of “Hollywood’ing” such an event. But in my personal heartfelt opinion, I personally need to see it. To remember those that lost their lives heroically, no, they lost their lives doing what they had done every other day of their careers! I love those people and do not know a single person affected personally by 9/11. And yet I feel like I’ve known every single one of them! I commend everyone for their efforts and discussion. Too many have already forgotten what they vowed, “We will never forget!” I know this isn’t a popular opinion, but I would like to see the WTC rebuilt EXACTLY as it was (with current improvements, of course). It is my belief that those who were lost on that fateful day would want to stand up in the faces of the cowards who attacked and say, “We will NOT be intimidated!” It would be awesome to see each and every face etched into the towers… forever memorializing their loss! Anyway, just an opinion… I appreciate you all! Thanks!