The memorial wall

wtcart.jpgThe memorial wall
: I’ve been going to the World Trade Center site to do research for my memorial proposal and I’ve been touched by the actions of the many pilgrims who come there. The steel fence all around the site is kept clean of markings and objects. The fence behind the church is now clean of tributes.

But the people are compelled to leave their messages, tributes, art, and artifacts. And so they go to a gray, plywood wall on the south edge of the site. It gets covered with words and objects; then (sadly) the wall gets painted gray again; then they come back and cover it again.

I watched people from all over the world spend a long time — 10, 20 minutes each — contemplating what to write on the wall and writing it.

They write poems. They draw pictures. They send heartfelt messages to New York. They leave paintings. They hang up flowers. They leave pieces of themselves, because they clearly feel they must.

Here is a gallery of some of the people and some of what they have to say at the World Trade Center memorial wall.

  • As a Ground Zero resident, I have mixed feelings about people leaving messages at the site. I was impressed with all the tributes left around St. Paul’s, but it was true that it started to look like a homeless encampment as the weather turned everything into a mush of t-shirts, posters, and peace cranes.
    I was not impressed to see that people had written all over the displays on the east side of the site. It’s one thing to pay respects, but quite another for bored teenagers on fieldtrips to declare they “was here.”
    As for the grey wall to the south, the best time to see it is shortly after it’s been painted. Its nice to see the heartfelt thoughts and prayers, but it doesn’t take long for soemone to write “Blame Bush” and then another person has to write “Don’t” on top of that and someone has to write something about No Jesus No Peace, and someone else has to write Where was Jesus? And then the school kids come through and “Jimmy wuz here ’03” and it’s a relief when the painter comes back to give the wall a fresh (re)start.
    There is one guy who I’ve not seen mentioned in the media anywhere, but he’s bound to be interviewed one of these days, I’m not sure if he’s a crackpot or just a patriot, but he was there yesterday as I walked home from work. Every time they paint he comes back and tapes up photos and maps of the buildings. I’ve seen him walking around on weekends shouting statistics about the towers. His latest display is at the Washington Street entrance. It’s a nice reminder to those who hadn’t been there before 9/11 of what they’re not seeing -as opposed to the construction site they’re craning to take pictures of.
    I hope the official memorial provides an outlet for what is clearly an irresistable compulsion for those who visit the site.