Finding meaning at Ground Zero for future generations: some reflections a decade after 9/11.
|Author:||Miller, Eric D.|
|Publication:||Name: International Social Science Review Publisher: Pi Gamma Mu Audience: Academic Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Social sciences Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2011 Pi Gamma Mu ISSN: 0278-2308|
|Issue:||Date: Fall-Winter, 2011 Source Volume: 86 Source Issue: 3-4|
|Topic:||Event Name: World Trade Center and Pentagon Attacks, 2001; World Trade Center and Pentagon Attacks, 2001; World Trade Center and Pentagon Attacks, 2001 Event Code: 290 Public affairs|
|Product:||Product Code: 9101340 Terrorist Control; 9916550 Security Mgmt-Kidnapping & Terrorism NAICS Code: 92212 Police Protection|
|Geographic:||Geographic Scope: United States Geographic Name: World Trade Center Site (New York, New York) Geographic Code: 1USA United States|
This paper offers a critical analysis of how we should attempt to understand the meaning of Ground Zero a decade after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Americans may be reacting to this site, much like what often occurs following a major personal loss, by trying to downplay the sheer trauma of the event. While it is virtually inevitable that individuals will likely make sense of Ground Zero through their own personal biases, it is essential that future generations have a clear, full, and accurate representation of the devastation that occurred there.
At the time of this writing, nearly a decade has passed since the horrors of9/11. Some uncertainty remains over how the area that once housed the World Trade Center complex, which included New York City's Twin Towers--commonly known as Ground Zero--will ultimately commemorate the carnage and heroism of that day. The late clinical psychologist, Thomas Conran, argued that it is difficult to experience Ground Zero as a space without actually visiting it. Such a visit, he believed, represents a personal pilgrimage that intersects personal and public tragedy. (1) Setha M. Low, an environmental psychologist and anthropologist at The Graduate Center of the City University of New York, asserts that Ground Zero provides all of us, particularly scholars, with the opportunity to examine what is--or should be--the relationship between public space and culture. (2) These observations underscore the point that in order to appreciate the true meaning of culturally or historically important sites, it is critical to have experiential observations of them.
Ground Zero truly is a unique place of death in many respects. One could argue that 9/11, with the destruction of the Twin Towers as the pivotal event associated with that terrorist attack, may have opened a new page in world history. That reason alone makes this event fairly unique. Moreover, no other tragedy (with the possible exception of Jack Ruby's shooting of Lee Harvey Oswald) has been broadcast live on television as it happened. Some scholars have provided evidence suggesting a link between Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and depression experienced by New Yorkers who viewed the graphic images on television. (3) The vivid, horrific images from 9/11 provide another reason why Ground Zero (and the surrounding area) is an extremely unique place: It captures an indelible image of time and place of tragedy. Ultimately though, it will always be remembered as a place where over 2,700 innocent individuals were murdered under some of the most horrific circumstances imaginable. (4)
Understanding the Significance of Places of Death
All cultures feature "death systems" where there is "a sociophysical network whose functions include predictions and warnings, attempts to prevent or inflict death, orientations toward the dying person, body disposal, social reconstruction after death, and efforts to explain or rationalize our mortality." (5) Robert J. Kastenbaum, professor emeritus of gerontology and communication at Arizona State University, adds that a sense of time and place are important to cultural death systems in order to give individuals and society appropriate opportunities to grieve. (6) Indeed, places of death carry with them a special sense of meaning that cannot nor should not be taken away no matter where they exist. (7) Ground Zero is such a place. John H. Harvey, professor emeritus of psychology at the University of Iowa, argues that meaning is a process that is constantly being constructed and reconstructed in large part through stories that people tell in their lives and memorial markers. (8) As a New York-raised psychologist who studies loss and trauma, the tragic events of 9/11 had a personal resonance. In providing one perspective on how to make sense of and finding meaning in the horror of 9/11, I offer one such story.
Throughout New York City's history, countless murders have occurred in lower Manhattan--and yet there are no shrines to each of these individuals. Even certain disasters that have some sort of marker often remain unnoticed, such as the plaque remembering the 1966 fire in New York's Flatiron District that killed twelve firefighters, the most in a single day prior to 9/11. (9) In countries throughout the world, including the United States, acts of war and genocide have been committed without any marker or recognition of such atrocities. And what about the prospect of another al-Qaeda inspired terrorist attack occurring in the United States? If a biochemical attack caused the deaths of tens of thousands of individuals, would 9/11 lose much of its significance? These are all troubling questions that raise the issue of why and how certain places associated with death are commemorated while others are ignored or overlooked.
The debate over the future of Ground Zero reveals how many individuals do not believe that places of death should necessarily be overt reminders of that fact. Logistically, the World Trade Center site is a tricky one to understand: Across the street from it is the World Financial Center and several blocks from there is Wall Street. Moreover, within a radius of two to three blocks there are apartment buildings, schools, and stores. Unlike American Civil War battlefields or Nazi concentration camps, Ground Zero is not located in an idyllic country setting. If those sites were situated in bustling urban centers, would it have been argued that commercial development would have to give way to memorials of mass death and genocide? The Oklahoma City Memorial is located in the heart of downtown Oklahoma City at the site of the former Murrah Building. If that structure had been located in downtown New York City, would its' solemn and moving memorial to the 168 individuals murdered there not have been created?
While it may be a somewhat unsettling fact to accept, it is logistically impossible to commemorate (in a tangible sense) every single person who has been killed or murdered, although with the ever-growing popularity of Internet-based shrines this is a murky point. Heritage or memorial commissions can only include a fixed number of individuals. However, memorials possess the potential to represent the grief and suffering of any person. For instance, the American Holocaust Museum not only commemorates those who perished at the hands of the Nazis, but also acknowledges the suffering of anyone who has been victimized through
prejudice or genocide. (10)
In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, we witnessed many poignant posters featuring the names and faces of what would eventually reach more than 2,700 individuals murdered in the destruction of New York City's Twin Towers. These images gave way to the even more profound vistas of grief and loss that followed in the weeks and months after September 11, 2001. Ground Zero was a site that I knew "had" to be visited--albeit somewhat reluctantly.
March 2002 Visit
At some level, I had no idea what to expect during my first visit to Ground Zero in late March 2002. While crossing the Verrazano Bridge, I had already experienced the jaw-dropping sensation of not seeing the Twin Towers perched near the Statue of Liberty, as I had seen countless times before. At that point, the realization that l had not witnessed a macabre television movie on 9/11 truly crystallized within me.
As I approached Ground Zero, the first image I saw was an overflow of individuals crowding near St. Paul's Chapel. Located less than two blocks from the World Trade Center, this historic church miraculously suffered little damage. Throngs of onlookers observed the many shrines and well wishes placed in front of the church.
After leaving the area surrounding the chapel, the overwhelming destruction of Ground Zero became palpable: The site was even more devastating than what was depicted on television, or in newspapers or books. This massive pit that once housed the two tallest buildings in the world was just that--a massive pit. One of the arguably life-affirming images that I viewed was the cross unearthed by Ground Zero recovery workers.
As I stood directly across the street from Ground Zero on this cold, dreary day, that sense of pure awe at what I was witnessing gave way to an even crueler realization. I began wondering to myself: Am I standing on ground where a human body or parts of a human body were found? The very troubling answer would have to be that it was quite likely.
As I continued walking around the general perimeter of Ground Zero (including Wall Street) and noticed that many buildings several blocks from the World Trade Center site were greatly damaged, I found my way back to St. Paul's Chapel. This time I wanted a closer look at some of the loving tributes placed in front of the church. One particularly compelling remembrance read:
At that point, I began to realize that this site clearly represented more than fallen buildings. it even signified more than the potential start of a new chapter in world history and war, or larger theoretical or behavioral truisms about altruism, evil or aggression. It was a place of death where more than 2,700 individuals were killed under particularly appalling and gruesome circumstances. I now thought that the need to recognize the entire Ground Zero site as something that was special, perhaps even sacred, would be an obvious given. Commenting on what should be the future of Ground Zero, former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani writes:
After subsequent visits to the site, I began to wonder whether Mayor Giuliani's warning might be realized after all.
October 2003 and Subsequent Visits
In early October 2003, I returned to Ground Zero and found it to be an extremely different experience. Less than a block from the site, I noticed a store with the placard, "We Will Never Forget," which contained images from the days immediately following 9/11. Ironically, on the day of my second visit to Ground Zero the New York Times featured an article about the 1966 fire in New York's Flatiron District. It read, in part:
After my second visit to Ground Zero, I was amazed--and somewhat disturbed--at how seemingly fast the site was being transformed from a virtual cemetery to a drab construction site. As I could now stand feet from this open pit, I was in disbelief at the sheer emphasis on rebuilding for the sake of rebuilding as depicted in a photograph of the site which described "Restoring WTC Transportation." In fact, near the bottom of Ground Zero, just two years after the tragedy, train tracks were plainly visible.
As I walked a few yards from a vendor who was selling WTC kitsch (which, in and of itself, represents a sort of odd juxtaposition of the site), (14) I proceeded to the absolute closest point to the former Twin Towers that I had ever Visited since the disaster. Standing in the shadow of the former South Tower, I turned to my wife and mentioned that we most certainly were standing on ground where countless individuals had died. It was then that I noticed a placard on a building adjacent to the World Financial Center, the apartments of Battery Park City, and the heavily damaged Deutsche Bank Building with an "American heart" intersecting New York City, which read: "The human spirit is not measured by the size of the act, but by the size of the heart."
Given subsequent developments concerning the future of Ground Zero, the content of the heart is also debatable. Soon after my second trip to Ground Zero, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg observed:
Similar sentiments emphasizing the sheer business and economic qualities of the site have been expressed by the owner/developer of the World Trade Center, Larry Silverstein. (16) On the day of my second visit, I read a New York Times Letter to the Editor that contained analogous, contradictory thinking: "Life goes on. No one wants to walk by a cemetery or memorial at ground level on the way to work and shop." But, this same individual then admitted: "The long-term psychological damage to the greatest city in the world will go on forever. The site will always be referred to as 'that's where the World Trade Center used to be.'" (17)
In terms of commemorating the site, logistically, as noted earlier, the World Trade Center area is quite complex given its close proximity to prominent buildings and financial institutions, as well as apartment buildings, schools, and stores. Again, unlike American Civil War battlefields or Nazi concentration camps, Ground Zero is not located in an idyllic country setting. Athinodoros Chronis, an associate professor of marketing at California State University-Stanislaus, notes that the Gettysburg battlefield of today not only serves as a narrative to the trauma from that battle, but it may even be viewed as a "relative" to 9/11. (18) Indeed, as A. J. Grant, a professor of English and communication at Robert Morris University, asserts, such sites as Gettysburg, Auschwitz, and the Wailing Wall--along with Ground Zero--represent places of great death and destruction. As such, they possess "mysterium tremendum," in that they are atypical and even esoteric in nature. (19) Indeed, as Jennifer Selby, a religious studies scholar, states, Ground Zero holds an almost "sacred pilgrimage" quality in that many individuals feel spiritually drawn to it. (20) And yet, one has to ask if certain sites of destruction and death, such as Auschwitz and Gettysburg, were located in bustling urban centers, would it have been argued that commercial development should not have to give way to memorials of mass death and genocide? How can Ground Zero (first and foremost) be thought of as anything else other than a cemetery? That fact must be embraced--not denied. In many respects, the most powerful reminder of what occurred on that sunny September morning is by seeing what is no longer there.
Since 2003, 1 have casually visited Ground Zero on several occasions. Perhaps most significantly, in 2007, I passed by that site for the first time with my two young children. What astounded me most during that visit was how much Ground Zero looked like a typical construction site. Someone without knowledge of the events of 9/11, like my young children, would not have even known or appreciated the significance and meaning of the site. While it remains to be seen how the final memorial shapes up, the transformation of Ground Zero into a construction zone lacks the dimension of emptiness that is critical to the aesthetics of memorial design. (21) It suggests a certain degree of insensitivity to the victims and their families that the site has been allowed to languish in such a state over the past decade.
Lessons (Not) Learned: The Same Old Story about Grief
The long, protracted battle over the future of Ground Zero--including the push to ensure that it should remain a critical financial and business hub (at least to some degree)--highlights how difficult it is for Americans to deal honestly and openly with death and loss. We often hold very rigid, and incorrect, expectations over how one should grieve over a traumatic experience of loss.
Recently, psychologists have realized that many of the old clich6s about death are more appropriately dubbed as "myths." (22) For instance, for many individuals, time does not heal all wounds whatsoever. Several scholars contend that by fully embracing and understanding what we have lost, there is the potential to inherit strength from such circumstances. (23) But the reality is that humans tend to fear the prospect of facing their mortality--and 9/1 1, in many respects, offers a very powerful example which reminds us of our personal vulnerabilities. (24) Still, we need to be aware of our mortality; doing so can actually help us appreciate what we have in the here and now. (25)
At some level, it is quite understandable as to why we would not want to ruminate about loss and death since it fosters depression and other psychological ailments. (26) Consistent with the "positive psychology" movement, (27) we like to showcase human strength. In regard to Ground Zero, one could argue how better to showcase strength by building tall buildings and restoring business ? But, on the contrary, human strengths and acts of meaning are often best displayed during times of crises. (28)
Places of death of the magnitude of Ground Zero possess a special sense of meaning that cannot and should not be taken away no matter where they may be found. Christine Staudt, an independent art historian, believes that much of the mainstream media did the American public a disservice by making an editorial decision to censure many of the most gripping images of the dead. (29) It is understandable why one might want to avoid overexposure to the traumatic images of 9/1 1, especially because of their possible links with depression. (30) As some scholars have shown, increased media coverage of 9/11 has been linked with higher PTSD symptoms in children. (31) And yet, the vivid, horrible images from that day provide another reason why Ground Zero (and the surrounding area) is an extremely unique place: It captures an indelible image of time and place of tragedy.
Many scholars, including the famed psychologist Erik Erikson, have advanced the concept of generativity, defined as an adult's concern for providing knowledge to future generations. (32) How will we respond to these children, not to mention young children still uninformed about the attacks and those unborn who will indubitably someday witness the horrific images from 9/11 that have been forever seared into our collective consciousness? Some recent psychological research released for the tenth anniversary of the attacks suggests that most adults may actually have been far more resilient in coping with the long-term effects of this event than initially believed. (33) However, it is still difficult to downplay the horror of that day--or how current or future generations will come to understand and relate to it.
Understanding Ground Zero through Historical Comparisons: Antietam and World War II
Comparisons between the Gettysburg Battlefield Memorial and Ground Zero are quite fair in that they both represent sites of massive carnage in American history. However, in some respects, perhaps a more appropriate comparison to 9/11 and Ground Zero would be the Battle of Antietam, which was fought on September 17, 1862, near Sharpsburg, Maryland. This battle had major ramifications for the course of the American Civil War, and, more generally, American society. While the North technically prevailed at Antietam, it failed to convincingly crush the South--and, as a consequence, the conflict lasted another two-and-a-half years. But Antietam gave Lincoln the latitude to issue his Emancipation Proclamation, thereby setting in motion the end of slavery in the United States. (34)
Even more significantly, Antietam remains, to this day, the single-bloodiest day in American history--over 3,600 soldiers were killed and thousands more were either injured or went missing. In the first few weeks after 9/11, there was a widespread belief that the carnage of that day would eclipse the death count at Antietam, giving it the dubious distinction as America's single deadliest day. (35) Though the battle retains this infamous title by several hundreds of deaths, the fact that 9/1 1 nearly eclipsed the devastation and death at Antietam has not been lost on those familiar with that battle. In comparing the carnage associated with 9/11 with that at Antietam, Superintendent John Howard of the Antietam National Battlefield observes:
Even though the sociopolitical and historical context of 9/11 and Antietam are quite different, both represent events in American history where tremendous carnage occurred over the course of only a few hours. Today, the Antietam Battlefield is often described as having an "eerie power" to it--perhaps heightened by the fact that 2,000 individuals have never been accounted for at the site and that the remains of a soldier were unearthed as recently as 2008. (37) A significant reason for this "eerieness" may lie in the sheer and raw carnage that occurred on that battlefield. Antietam allows visitors to walk around the battlefield and imagine the devastation that occurred there in ways that might be somewhat more difficult to experience at other American Civil War battle sites, such as Gettysburg. As Superintendent Howard puts it:
The superintendent makes a valid point. Unlike Gettysburg, Antietam is a much more rural and isolated location with fewer visitors and tourist facilities. At Gettysburg, visitors can dine at fast food restaurants that are literally steps away from parts of the battlefield and the National Cemetery where Lincoln delivered his famous address. The fact that Antietam maintains a unique quality of preserving time and place has not been lost on those who seek to preserve historic sites. In fact, in 2008, in large part due to proposed development (including cell phone towers) in that area, the Civil War Preservation Trust placed Antietam on its "Most Endangered" list. As O. James Lighthizer, the group's president, correctly observes: "Once these irreplaceable treasures are gone, they're gone forever." (39)
Those looking to remember 9/11 would be wise to learn from the preservation of Antietam, that is, it is more about the brutality and savagery of war, suffering, and death than rebirth and heroism. To be sure, there are aspects of the latter found at Antietam. As noted, some good did emerge from this trauma, most notably the Emancipation Proclamation. Additionally, the compassionate work of Clara Barton received much notice; her decision to help create the American Red Cross was clearly shaped by the horrors she witnessed at Antietam. (40)
But again, Antietam forces us to ask questions regarding why such brutality had to occur in the first place. Drew Giplin Faust, the current president of Harvard University, maintains that carnage during the Civil War touched the lives of nearly every American. She suggests that Americans had a complex relationship with death: While it was largely thought to be a necessity, they struggled to understand the depths of the tragedy, including the sheer numbers of the dead. (41)
Antietam offers an eerie, unique parallel to the 9/1 1 attacks. Much like 9/11 was widely broadcast and shown on television and Internet sites, the carnage at Antietam was one of the first battles to be widely photographed. In an attempt to show the sheer butchery of war (as opposed to something glorious and romantic), Alexander Gardner showcased his photographs taken at Antietam at a gallery in New York City soon after the battle.42 While sites like Antietam and Ground Zero are indeed places for us to face death, they also should stimulate us to reflect on the causes of these events, as well as ways to better understand how such trauma can restore a sense of hope and resilience in others.
Pearl Harbor shares many of the same characteristics of Ground Zero and Antietam. It is widely remembered as the site of the Japanese attack against the American Pacific fleet that gave President Franklin Delano Roosevelt license to seek a declaration of war from Congress, which marked America's formal entry into World War II. As the third deadliest day in American history, it, too, serves as an iconic site that strives to recall and honor those who perished there.
Historian Emily S. Rosenberg notes another commonality between the attacks on Pearl Harbor and 9/11:
These sites have not only affirmed patriotic and nationalist themes, they have also encouraged them. As Rosenberg writes, both Pearl Harbor and 9/11 stirred the American public into a stark contrast between what (or who) should be considered good or evil:
Indeed, it is often difficult to look at sites of tragedy and destruction, like Pearl Harbor and Ground Zero, through a completely apolitical lens. Historian John Bodnar writes that both attacks were framed in such a manner as to imbue moral standards of righteousness such that the only proper, heroic act would be to command an assault against "evil forces in the world." (45) He points out that American history is replete with examples of showing strength, masculine virtues, and heroism as a means to mask feelings or perceptions of vulnerability and grief. For instance, during World War II General Douglas MacArthur was viewed as the embodiment of a tradition that "celebrated honor over tragedy" and shaped perceptions of manliness, whereas the American withdrawal from Vietnam had an exceedingly negative and "timid" hue to it. Bodnar adds that such goals, though they may have a seemingly noble means to it (e.g., increased patriotism), often produce an end result where individuals find it necessary to overlook the historical trauma, loss, and death associated with certain sites. (46)
This discussion about Pearl Harbor also forces one to consider how to make sense of historical ruins associated with trauma and death. The Arizona Memorial serves as the centerpiece in remembering that attack. Individuals can visit an open-air memorial that sits above the sunken remains of this naval vessel. Other incredible sites of profound devastation during World War II showcase select ruins. Japan, too, seeks to remember the tragedy of that conflict by maintaining the Hiroshima Peace Memorial that features one of the very few buildings, the Genbaku Dome, which survived the August 6, 1945, atomic bombing of that city. In addition, great care is taken to preserve the ruins of Nazi concentration camps where unspeakable acts of genocide occurred.
According to David Lowenthal, professor emeritus of geography at University College London, there are certainly risks associated with remembering the past, including an inability to cope with the realities of it, but there is merit to preserving and studying relics. He maintains that:
Arguably, relics or ruins of the past are not necessarily synonymous with memorial sites. Pearl Harbor, the Hiroshima Peace Memorial, and Nazi concentration camps provide examples of where the two can intersect. Sometimes memorials are constructed as a means to honor the dead--even if there is no clear association shown between the death and destruction that define these sites. Erika Doss, a professor of art and art history at the University of Colorado, notes that the Washington, D.C. area is replete with examples of architectural styles and monuments, such as the Iwo Jima Monument and the National World War II Memorial, which highlight "military triumphalism." (48) Ironically, as Doss points out, one of the few memorials the Vietnam Veterans Memorial--that does not embrace this style (and actually seems to reject it) receives the most annual visitors. (49) She recognizes that sites where death has occurred are especially important places to grieve. Visitors to these sites are:
Once more, we return to the point that Ground Zero is not just a political symbol of a foreign attack that launched subsequent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. It is a place of death that will become a memorial site, though the full degree to which the current design will come to fruition has yet to be realized. By the end of 2003, what was to be the world's tallest building--the so-called Freedom Tower, designed to sore 1,776 feet in the sky--along with several other office buildings were be built on the former World Trade Center site. A critical aspect of the site was a 4.7 acre memorial, Reflecting Absence, featuring two reflecting pools to be built where the Twin Towers once stood. (51) Though many changes in the design of the memorial have occurred since then, the National September 11 Memorial website states that reflecting pools will indeed be situated in the footprints of the base of the former Twin Towers. (52)
Arguably though, the most obvious signs of ruin from this disaster will be situated well below the surface of the memorial where a 62-by-64-foot section of the World Trade Center's original foundation, often known as a slurry wall, will be preserved as part of an underground memorial. According to Daniel Libeskind, the original architect for the World Trade Center Memorial, the foundation walls:
Libeskind's statement spotlights some of themes of "military triumphalism" associated with many other prominent American memorials. Yet, in some ways, these slurry walls do serve as a perfect symbolic metaphor for both the nature of grief and, more generally, American public sentiments toward expressing such grief. These walls, like grief itself, are often not visible at the surface and can take some time to understand and appreciate. And, symbolically, the theme of removing (or even hiding) grief from clear public view (i.e., at the street level of the September 11 Memorial) and literally placing it underground is characteristic of the way America remembers trauma and death.
Frankly, it is a rare exception to have a monument that features raw, visceral reactions to grief. Ironically, a particularly profound example of such a memorial also involves reactions to the deaths of loved ones resulting from another act of terrorism. On December 21, 1988, 270 individuals were killed when Pan Am Flight 103 exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland, as a result of terrorism. Among the dead was 21-year-old Alexander Lowenstein. His mother, Suse Lowenstein, a sculptor, sought to capture her own grief and that of other mothers when they learned of the death of their child or other loved ones. These seventy-five sculptures, which feature naked, vulnerable grieving women, collectively formed her memorial, "Dark Elegy," which seeks to honor the lives lost and to showcase the evils of terrorism to the world. (54) Unfortunately, the plight of "Dark Elegy" has undergone some bittersweet developments. Lowenstein is currently trying to find a permanent location to showcase her memorial. In an effort to have it placed on public land in Washington, D.C., she took her case to Congress where she was met by negative comments such as "I see something simpler, something more as a benign gesture to what happened," and "... some of the poses of the various figures create an opportunity for irreverent behavior by visitors." (55)
It is remarkable that Americans find it so difficult to look at raw grief, whereas many other countries and cultures do not. In 2007, the Armed Forces Memorial was dedicated in the United Kingdom to commemorate service members who had died since World War II, including those from acts of terrorism. The monuments associated with this memorial are purposely designed to show the suffering of dying, dead, or wounded service members and the raw grief and anguish of their loved ones--and many of these depictions feature naked individuals in an effort to highlight vulnerability and one's humanness. One review of this memorial captured its essence: "There is nothing mawkish or sentimental in these profoundly moving scenes. They are painfully honest, almost brutal, in their depiction of raw human loss. And so they should be." (56) While Americans generally strive to honor the dead, historically they prefer to do so at a distance. Whether this trend will ever change (and the consequences for doing so) remains to be seen.
Defining Ground Zero By What It Is Not: On Politics, Mosques, and Money
Given that the former World Trade Center site is located literally blocks from Wall Street, its worldwide significance is quite manifest. In fact, it is widely believed that a chief reason why Osama bin Laden targeted the Twin Towers was due to their value as a symbol of American capitalism. (57) As political scientist Maarten A. Hajer observes, it was inevitable that finances would guide what would become of the site: The fact that the World Trade Center was nestled just a few blocks from Wall Street and was one of New York City's major financial hubs in its own right, made it virtually impossible not to resurrect the site as a financial enterprise. (58) More generally, many have argued that from the moment the World Trade Center became Ground Zero, it was virtually impossible to avoid the politicization of the site. (59) Theresa Ann Donofrio, a doctoral candidate in communication at the University of Maryland-College Park, suggests that both the left and right have used the carnage at that site to validate the correctness of their personal views on policies that preceded and followed the attacks. Consequently, many activists claim a sense of entitlement in determining what that site should be or look like. (60)
Perhaps most concerning was the 2010 controversy surrounding the so-called "Ground Zero Mosque." In brief, in December 2009 it was revealed that the Imam Feisel Abdul Rauf sought to establish a new Islamic Center (to be known as the Cordoba House) just a few blocks from Ground Zero. (61) This building, which would feature a prayer area, was designed to be open to all members of the community and include many cultural and social amenities that would likely be attractive to most individuals. In the ensuing months, however, many conservative commentators, including former vice presidential candidate, Sarah Palin, voiced their outrage over the location of the proposed center. Polls clearly indicated that most Americans shared this sentiment, even though President Barack Obama expressed his support for the imam's right to build an Islamic Center near Ground Zero. (62)
This controversy illustrates the still perplexing questions about how to make sense of Ground Zero: Perhaps we may try to make the most sense of it by trying to comprehend what it is not. On one level, it is understandable to appreciate the sensitivities of 9/11 families and others who question the appropriateness of having an Islamic Center so close to the site. One could imagine that there would be palpable outrage if a German cultural center was planned a short distance from a concentration camp. Then again, there is sufficient reason to question the rationale of the objections to this center. Perhaps most compelling is the point that the Pentagon already has a Memorial Chapel--located at the point of physical impact of one of the crashes--where Muslims can freely pray. Why was there no discernible outrage over this plan? Perhaps it was due to the fact that the physical destruction and death associated with the Pentagon site paled in comparison to that which occurred at Ground Zero. Additionally, the Pentagon is often seen as a military-esque building as opposed to the public, civilian buildings of the World Trade Center. Other points that merit consideration include the fact that there has been a mosque located in lower Manhattan for decades and that there are many businesses (e.g., bars) located near the site that could be viewed as unsavory. Perhaps it boils down to a strain of Islamophobia that many Americans have felt in the wake of 9/11. After all, opposition was raised against the proposed memorial site at Shanksville, Pennsylvania, because it looked too much like an Islamic crescent symbol. (63) We should ask ourselves if an Islamic Center strives to promote peace and understanding while remembering and rejecting the carnage of 9/11, should logical reasons justify our rejection of this vision? The English-American author, journalist, and pundit Christopher Hitchens suggests that, fundamentally, the concerns over building such a center are not steeped in logic. But he recognizes that comments made by the Imam Feisel Abdul Rauf on the television show 60 Minutes that "United States policies were an accessory to the crime that happened" ultimately may have shown an insensitivity that is inconsistent with the purported mission of the contemplated cultural center. (64)
The Identity of Ground Zero as an Ever-Changing Entity
Another great challenge in rebuilding Ground Zero is that it is not a representation of a mere business, financial, tourist, or even historical site. Both at the time of 9/11 and now, thousands of individuals call the area home. Many scholars have discussed their own personal experiences and relationships with the site (both on 9/11 and thereafter) while trying to go about the business of the day. For example, Linda G. Mills, a professor of social work, public policy, and law at the Global Network University of New York University, poignantly recounts the horror of 9/11 by recalling that her son had just started kindergarten at a nearby school days before the attacks. She readily admits that 9/11 has made her more vigilant about monitoring her child's mental health. (65) To cite another example, James R. Rogers and Karen M. Soyka, both counselors, reflect on the grace and compassion that they experienced in the immediate wake of the disaster by serving as Red Cross volunteers. (66) It should thus be apparent how challenging it is to find an appropriate balance for a location that seeks to function within the fabric of America's largest city while honoring the historic tragedy and legacy of the site.
More generally, individuals often attempt to find unique means and methods of mourning that are impacted by larger sociocultural influences. For instance, Tony Walter, who specializes in the study of death at the University of Bath, finds that, in the wake of the 1997 death of Princess Diana, Britons were more likely to congregate in churches if they lived in cities or villages. Elsewhere (e.g., suburban areas), Britons were more likely to pay their respects to Diana by visiting town halls, war memorials, or other public buildings. (67) While this difference in mourning for this public figure is not insignificant, the broader point remains that Britons were trying to make sense of Diana's sudden death by publicly acknowledging their grief in some visible manner. Walter's investigation is also interesting in that it shows that individuals can mourn not just at the site of death (the precise Paris location of her car crash), but also places that might symbolize the deceased (e.g., places where she lived).
But now, a decade after 9/11, what do we make of Ground Zero? Consistent with Waiter's study, individuals have chosen to memorialize not just the actual physical site of the attack on the World Trade Center in New York City. In their analysis of hundreds of local community memorials to 9/11, Erika Svendsen and Lindsay K. Campbell, both researchers for the U.S. Forest Service, suggest that sacred spaces often have contested and different meanings. (68) Most of these memorials (73.28%) were designed to remember particular people. However, there were many other purposes of these disparate memorials, including: encouraging reflection/healing, supporting community cohesion, expressing patriotism, and community use. While only a sliver of the responses suggest that the "meaning [of memorials] will be determined over time" (7.76%), this is still significant. Indeed, how we remember and respond to 9/11 appears to have an ever-changing dimension. (69)
While the sheer death and destruction associated with 9/11 will always be a factual reality, its impact remains to be understood through the prism of history. If the United States suffers another terrorist attack that eclipses the devastation of that day, will we think of 9/11 differently? What if the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are widely viewed as failures? There is already widespread condemnation of the 2003 Iraq War on the basis that it was undertaken on false pretenses. (70) Moreover, there is growing consternation over the success and goals of the war in Afghanistan that was launched about a month after 9/11. (71) Ultimately though, how we process grief caused by war, disasters, and other societal traumas is mostly an individual experience. As psychiatrist Colin Murray Parkes finds, with the passage of time, we may need to rethink the nature of the factors that facilitate healthy adjustment. For the time being, he suggests that one's personality profile, along with the nature of support of attachment with others, are particularly critical in how one processes his/her grief. (72)
Future Generations and 9/11
Scholars have demonstrated an almost visceral sense of urgency to document public reactions to 9/11 as soon as possible after the tragedy. In an ambitious oral history project conducted by researchers at Columbia University, hundreds of accounts were collected from individuals who either worked or were connected (in some capacity) to the World Trade Center area weeks (in the first phase) or months (in the second phase) after the event. Perhaps one of the strongest-held emotions reported by participants in that study was a clear sense of fear and angst associated with the disaster, which were even "perceived in direct and indirect ways as an apocalypse." (73)
Many important historical sites of American tragedy were quick to follow suit. One such site was the hastily organized "Loss and Renewal: Transforming Tragic Sites" display at the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza in Dallas, Texas, which is the location where Lee Harvey Oswald fatally shot President John E Kennedy in November 1963. Organizers collected over 2,400 reactions from visitors to the exhibit, which highlighted other seminal tragedies in American history (i.e., Pearl Harbor and the assassinations of Presidents Lincoln and Kennedy). While organizers admit that the display was of "limited scope and temporary in nature" (it ran for less than a year), its significance was that "[i]t asked important questions about tragedy and how a nation comes to grips with loss [even if] the answers will be slow in coming." (74)
Such efforts to document the initial public reaction to 9/1 1 may allow future generations to learn about the deep visceral sense of shock, fear, and grief that soon followed this tragedy. However, in so many ways, how future generations will be shaped by (if at all) and remember 9/11 remains to be seen. Linda S. Watts, a professor of interdisciplinary arts and sciences at the University of Washington-Bothell, suggests that throughout the heated debates over what should be done with Ground Zero, many fail to consider how future visitors to the site--even 100 years from now--will view it. (75) Joseph Nevins, a professor of earth science and geography at Vassar College, believes that memories of horrific events can be literal or exemplary in nature. Literal memories seek to honor and remember traumatic events, whereas exemplary memories are used in a way for the trauma to draw larger connections about humanity and human nature. (76) Like many of the events surrounding World War II and the Holocaust, Ground Zero may serve a similar purpose. The challenge may be to ascertain what and how Ground Zero reflects social, cultural, and psychological values. (77) Political scientist Jon Bohland suggests that the 9/11 attacks represented a transformative change in everyday routine. (78) James Young, a professor of English and Judaic Studies at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, adds that, like stages of mourning, Ground Zero continuously and appropriately fulfills different needs for different individuals. (79) This is a valid point if, for no other reason, Ground Zero has already undergone many physical metamorphoses since 9/11, including the manner and methods by which the public has been able to view the site and what they have been allowed to see. (80)
Philip Nobel, who has written about architecture for various publications, offers a somber, though perhaps realistic, vision of how the future Ground Zero site may operate:
Nobel's prediction is both sobering and downright prescient. Today, "Freedom Tower" is returning to its old, neutral namesake of "One World Trade Center." (82) In fact, as Marita Sturken, a professor of medicine, culture, and communication at New York University, observes, Americans would almost rather transform sites &tragedy, such as Ground Zero, into venues of consumerism and kitsch to avoid dealing with the difficult and painful causes and consequences of such places. (83) By doing so, we fail to even imagine or wonder about the meaning of such a site.
Conclusion: But What Does Ground Zero "Mean?"
On May 1, 2011, President Barack Obama made a dramatic announcement that, after a daring raid on a Pakistani compound, American Navy Seals had killed Osama bin Laden, the mastermind of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Immediately after the news of his death, there was a widespread belief that Americans were witness to history--perhaps even akin to the news of the deaths of several notorious World War II figures. (84) Following the announcement, many Americans congregated to celebrate and reflect on the death of bin Laden, most notably outside the grounds of the White House and at Ground Zero. Understandably, the death of bin Laden may have most strongly affected those who lost loved ones in the terrorist attacks. Mickey Carroll, whose father died at Ground Zero, offered this reaction: "it's hard to explain. I feel anxious. I feel excited.... This is something that the country ... these families, my family ... had been waiting for so long." Jamie Roman, a teenager who lost a close family friend in the attacks, declared: "This is a little bit of closure.... We finally have some peace in our lives." (85)
While bin Laden's death may (in certain ways) offer some degree of temporary "closure," it does not erase the "Why did this have to happen?" question. And, unlike the demise of previous infamous leaders, bin Laden's death does not guarantee a lasting "peace." If anything, it suggests that America still struggles to understand Islamic nationalism. (86) The events of September 11, 2001, ultimately may be thought of as part of a broader war on terrorism with its roots dating back at least to the 1970s, with no discernible endgame. (87)
Irrespective of bin Laden's death, Karen Espiritu and Donald G. Moore, two doctoral candidates in English and Cultural Studies at McMaster University, correctly point out that "the trauma that represents [9/11] is still ongoing and has yet to come." (88) In other words, the long-term legacy and fallout of 9/11 remains to be fully understood. Unless one is a sympathizer of al-Qaeda, it is virtually impossible to ignore the sheer chaos, loss, and devastation from that singular day. It is widely presumed that September 11, 2001, is the "most photographed day in history," and that "the time between the second plane hitting and the towers collapsing represent ... the most photographed 'event' in human history."89 Since the attacks, websites such as YouTube allow individuals to view countless images from that day in real time. Consequently, the horror of that event can be shared with individuals in ways that differ from previous human catastrophes and atrocities.
Beyond that, the consensus of the meaning of Ground Zero is much more nebulous. Arguably, the 9/11 terrorist attacks set the stage for the "War on Terrorism," in the form of subsequent U.S.-led invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. Politically, we might extrapolate that the American public's growing displeasure with the Iraq War, in particular, contributed, to some degree, to the election of the first African-American president, Barack Obama. The 9/11 attacks also disproved the idea that America is immune from foreign attack, which has fostered a growing unease that a terrorist attack of any type might occur at any given place or time.
Assuming the development of a relatively tasteful and sensitive physical memorial at Ground Zero, one should consider whether the fact that much of the site again becomes a commercial hub is appropriate. One might argue that the act of moving forward by rebuilding represents a sign of "moving on" from the tragedy. To be sure, other "sacred" sites, such as Gettysburg, are surrounded by commercial properties. But the controversy over the "Ground Zero Mosque" serves as a reminder that the site has a Rorschach test quality to it in that it may be hopelessly viewed through the prisms of our personal biases and perceptions.
Let me offer one final related anecdote. Several years after 9/11, my eldest son, then four years old, received a picture book of New York City featuring the Twin Towers. When he asked about those buildings and why he did not see them on a recent trip to Manhattan, I simply told him that 'they just had to be taken down.' I sensed that he remained rather confused--as well he should be, and sadly, like most of his generation, he will probably wrestle with the meaning of 9/11 for a long time. Now older and with a basic factual understanding of that event, his questions regarding 9/11 grow more challenging and complex: "Why did this have to happen?"; "Are we safe?"; and, "What wars have started due to 9/11 and when will we win them?" This should not come as a surprise since adults today ask similar questions concerning historical catastrophes such as the American Civil War and World War II.
As we reflect on the future of Ground Zero, like many other historic sites of death and tragedy, let us remember that it is an extraordinarily important place for future generations to appreciate. Much like a bereaved individual who refuses to deal with the pain of his or her loss, some could argue that New York City (and the country as a whole) is trying to mask the open scar that is this massive pit. Alas, have we not learned the lessons of how to cope with grief?. It is not about 'getting over' what has happened, but rather embracing the pain of loss as a way of showcasing strength. The massive pit that is now Ground Zero forces us to be accountable to future generations by explaining to them what once stood there. In its earliest stage, it was impossible to ignore the vast openness of Ground Zero. Now, a decade after 9/11, it could be relatively easy to view Ground Zero as any other construction zone where the horror of the site--quite ironically, given the reported importance of Reflecting Absence in the proposed September 11 Memorial--reflects absence.
It remains to be seen whether 9/11 will be viewed as an aberrant act of terrorism that launched the so-called "war on terrorism" or the first act of many violent episodes of massive terrorist acts. It is equally uncertain as to the overall emotional tone that the memorial site will have: Will it feature a haunting dimension of time and place that can still be experienced at Antietam, or will it become a place to showcase military and patriotic might to passersby en route to nearby shopping centers, businesses, or subways? Either way, it will always be a place where more than 2,700 innocent individuals were murdered in a very brutal way. It is also a place where much heroism was shown as many individuals lost their lives while trying to help others. Let us honor that.
(1) Thomas Conran, "Solemn Witness: A Pilgrimage to Ground Zero at the World Trade Center," Journal of Systematic Therapies 21 (Fall 2002):39-47.
(2) Setha M. Low, "Lessons from Imagining the World Trade Center Site: An Examination of Public Space and Culture," Anthropology and Education Quarterly 33 (September 2002):395-405.
(3) See, for example, Jennifer Ahern, Sandro Galea, Heidi Resnick, Dean Kilpatrick, Michael Bucuvalus, Joel Gold, and David Vlahov, "Television Images and Psychological Symptoms after the September 11 Terrorist Attacks," Psychiatry: Interpersonal and Biological Processes 65 (Fall 2002):289-300.
(4) As of June 2011, 2,752 individuals are believed to have been killed at the World Trade Center on 9/11. One individual was added to the list in 2009 due to dust exposure from the collapse of the Twin Towers. This raises the possibility that the official death count emanating from the 9/11 attacks could rise in the future. See David W. Dunlap, "Sept. 11 Death Toll Rises by One, to 2,752," New York Times, January 16, 2009, http://cityroom. blogs.nytimes.com/2009/01/16sept-11-death-toll-rises-by-one-to-2752/ (accessed June 10, 2011), 1.
(5) Robert J. Kastenbaum and Paul T. Costa, "Psychological Perspectives on Death," Annual Review of Psychology 28 (1977):225-49.
(6) Robert J. Kastenbaum, Death, Society, and Human Experience, 9'hed. (Boston: Allyn & Bacon, 2007), 61-88.
(7) Victor E. Frankl, Man's Search .for Meaning (New York: Washington Square Press, 1959), 76-89.
(8) John H. Harvey, "The Psychology of Loss as a Lens to a Positive Psychology," American Behavioral Scientist 44 (January 2001):838-53; John H. Harvey, Give Sorrow Words': Perspectives on Loss and Trauma (Philadelphia: Brunner/Mazel, 2000), 104-07.
(9) Robert E Worth, "A Grievous Day, Eclipsed by Sept. 11," New York Times, October 12, 2003, N33.
(10) Harvey, Give Sorrow Words', 115-20.
(11) Derek Dalton, "Encountering Auschwitz: A Personal Rumination on the Possibilities and Limitations of Witnessing/Remembering Trauma in Memorial Space," Law Text Culture 13 (January 2009):187-225.
(12) Rudolph Giuliani, "Getting It Right at Ground Zero," Time, September 9, 2002, http://184.108.40.206/time/covers/1101020909/agiuliani.html (accessed May 20, 2011), 2-3.
(13) Worth, "A Grievous Day, Eclipsed by Sept. 11," New York Times, October 12, 2003, N33; Michelle O'Donnell, "Oct. 17, 1966, When 12 Firemen Died," New York Times, October 17, 2006, http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/17/nyregion/17fire.html (accessed May 20, 2011), 1-2.
(14) Molly Hurley and James Trimarco, "Morality and Merchandise: Vendors, Visitors and Police at New York City's Ground Zero," Critique of Anthropology 24 (March 2004):51-78.
(15) Curtis L. Taylor, "Mayor: Balance WTC Rebuilding," New York Newsday, June 12, 2002, 1.
(16) Andrew Rice, "Pitched Battle at Ground Zero," New York Observer, January 6, 2002, http://www.observer.com/node/45443 (accessed May 20, 2011), 1.
(17) John Paris, "Letters to the Editor/Grand Visions at Ground Zero," New York Times, October 12, 2003, 10WK.
(18) Athinodoros Chronis, "Coconstructing Heritage at the Gettysburg Storyscape," Annals of Tourism Research 32 (April 2005):400.
(19) A. J. Grant, "Ground Zero as Holy Ground and Prelude to Holy War," Journal of American Culture 28 (March 2005):49-60.
(20) Jennifer Selby, "The Politics of Pilgrimage: The Social Construction of Ground Zero," in On the Way to Being There: Studies in Pilgrimage and Tourism, ed. William Swatos, Jr. (Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill Academix, 2006), 159-85.
(21) Marita Sturken, "The Aesthetics of Absence: Rebuilding Ground Zero," American Ethnologist 31 (August 2004):311-25.
(22) Camille B. Wortman and Roxanne C. Silver, "The Myths of Coping with Loss," Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 57 (June 1989):349-57.
(23) Eric D. Miller and John H. Harvey, "The Interface of Positive Psychology with a Psychology of Loss: A Brave New World?" American Journal of Psychotherapy 55 (June 2001):313-22; Christopher Peterson, Nansook Park, Nnamdi Pole, Wendy D'Andrea, and Morton E. P. Seligman, "Strengths of Character and Posttraumatic Growth," Journal of Traumatic Stress 21 (April 2008):214-17.
(24) Florette Cohen, Daniel M. Ogilvie, Sheldon Soloman, Jeff Greenberg, and Tom Pyszczynski, "American Roulette: The Effect of Reminders of Death on Support for George W. Bush in the 2004 Presidential Election," Analyses of Social Issues and Public' Policy 5 (December 2005): 177-87.
(25) Eric D. Miller, "Imagining Partner Loss and Mortality Salience: Consequences for Romantic-Relationship Satisfaction," Social Behavior and Personality 31 (March 2003):167-80.
(26) Susan Nolen-Hoeksema, "The Role of Rumination in Depressive Disorders and Mixed Anxiety/Depressive Symptoms," Journal of Abnormal Psychology 109 (August 2000):504-11.
(27) Martin E. P. Seligman and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, "Postive Psychology: An Introduction," American Psychologist 55 (January 2000):5-14.
(28) Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning, 88.
(29) Christina Staudt, "Covering (up?) Death: A Close Reading of Time Magazine's September 11, 2001, Special Issue," in Speaking of Death: America's New Sense of Mortality, ed. Michael K. Bartalos (Westport, CT: Praeger, 2009), 152-82.
(30) Ahern, Galea, Resnick, Kilpatrick, Bucuvalus, Gold, and Vlahov, "Television Images and Psychological Symptoms after the September 11 Terrorist Attacks," 289.
(31) See, for example, Conway E. Saylor, Brian L. Cowart, Julie A. Wpousky, Crystal Jackson, and A. J. Finch, Jr., "Media Exposure to September 11: Elementary School Students' Experiences and Posttraumatic Symptoms," American Behavioral Scientist 46 (August 2003): 1622-42.
(32) Erik H. Erikson, Childhood and Society (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 1950), 138.
(33) Roxanne Cohen Silver, "An Introduction to 9/11: Ten Years Later," American Psychologist 66 (January 2011):1-2; Benedict Carey, "Sept. 11 Revealed Psychology's Limits, Review Finds," New York Times, July 28, 2011, http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/29/ health/research/29psych.ht,1? r=1 (accessed July 29, 2011), 1-4.
(34) James M. McPherson, Crossroads of Freedom: Antietam (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002), 138-46; Doris Kearns Goodwin, Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2005), 481.
(35) Charles W. Bell, "Even Battle Tolls Don't Come Close," New York Daily News, September 23, 2001, http://articles.nydailynews.com/2001-09-23/news/18359325 1 americans-toll-babi-yar (accessed May 20, 2011), 1.
(36) Michael Kilian, "After 9/11, Antietam Battle Anniversary Has Deep Resonance," National Geographic News, September 13, 2002, http://news.nationalgeographic.com/ news/2002/09/0913 020913 antietamwire.html (accessed May 20, 2011), 1.
(37) Dick Cooper, "Antietam's Eerie Power," Philadelphia Inquirer, April 3, 2011, http://www.philly.com/2011-04-03/news/29377388-1-battle-in-American-history- west-woods-bloodiest-single-day-battle (accessed May 20, 2011), 1-2.
(38) Kilian, "After 9/11, Antietam Battle Anniversary Has Deep Resonance," National Geographic News, September 13, 2002, http://news.nationalgraphic.com/news/2002/09/0913 202913 antietamwire.html (accessed May 20, 2011), 2.
(39) Kurt Repanshek, "Antietam, Monocacy Battlefields on 2008 'Most Endangered' List," National Parks Traveler, April 1, 2008, http://www.nationalparkstraveler.com/2008/04/antietam-monocacy- battlefields-2008-most-endangered-list (accessed May 20, 2011), 1.
(40) John Tooker, "Antietam: Agents of Medicine, Nursing and the Civil War," Transactions of the American Clinical and Climatological Association 118 (January 2007):215-23.
(41) Drew Gilplin Faust, This Republic of Suffering." Death and the American Civil War (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2008), xii, xiii, 68, 250-51.
(42) U.S. National Park Service, "Photography at Antietam," http://www.nps.gov/anti/ historyculture/photography.htm (accessed May 20, 2011), 3. See also Mark D. Katz, Witness to an Era: The Life and Photographs of Alexander Gardner," The Civil War, Lincoln, and the West (New York: Viking Press, 1991), 41-52.
(43) Emily S. Rosenberg, A Date Which Will Live." Pearl Harbor in American Memory (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2003), 175.
(44) Ibid., 186-87.
(45) John Bodnar, The "Good War" in American Memory (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010), 243.
(46) Ibid., 78, 80, 85.
(47) David Lowenthal, The Past is a Foreign Country (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1985), 249.
(48) Erika Doss, "Death, Art and Memory in the Public Sphere: The Visual and Material Culture of Grief in Contemporary America," Mortality 7 (January 2002):65.
(49) Ibid., 65-66.
(50) Ibid., 70.
(51) Carter B. Horsley, "The Freedom Tower at the World Trade Center Site: Testy Collaboration Between Daniel Libeskind and David Childs of Skidmore, Owens & Merrill Makes Progress," The City Review, December 20, 2003, http://www.thecityreview.com/ wtcfree.html (accessed May 20, 2011), 1-2; Bill Marsh, "A World Trade Center Progress Report," New York Times, May 7, 2011, http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/08/ weekinreview/08marsh.html? r+l (accessed May 20, 2011), 1-2.
(52) National September 11 Memorial & Museum, "About the Memorial," http://www.national911memorial.org/design-overview (accessed May 20, 2011), 1.
(53) David W. Dunlap, "For 9/11 Wall, a Little Support and a Permanent Place," New York Times, April 28, 2008, http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/28/nyregion/28wall.html (accessed May 20, 2011), 1.
(54) Suse Lowenstein, "About Dark Elegy," http://www.darkelegy103.com/about.html (accessed June 27, 2011), 1.
(55) Suse Lowenstein, "Update," http://www.darkeklegy103.com/action.html (accessed June 27,2011), 1.
(56) Robert Hardman, "A Tableau of Raw Human Grief Yet Utterly Uplifting," (London) Daily Mail, November 3, 2006, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/articcle-4144265/ A-tableauraw-human-grief-utterly-uplifting.html (accessed June 27, 2011), 1.
(57) On bin Laden and al-Qaeda's aim to cripple the American economy by targeting the World Trade Center in the 9/11 terrorist attacks, see Gregory L. Keeney and Detlof yon Winterfeldt, "Identifying and Structuring the Objectives of Terrorists," http://create.usa. edu/publications/KeeneReport.pdf (accessed July 29, 2011), 3
(58) Maarten A. Hajer, "Rebuilding Ground Zero: The Politics of Performance," Planning Theory & Practice 6 (December 2005):445-64.
(59) Simon Stow, "Pericles at Gettysburg and Ground Zero: Tragedy, Patriotism, and Public Mourning," American Political Science Review 101 (May 2007): 195-208.
(60) Theresa Ann Donofrio, "Ground Zero and Place-Making Authority: The Conservative Metaphors in 9/11 Families' 'Take Back the Memorial' Rhetoric," Western Journal of Communication 74 (March/April 2010):150-69.
(61) Joseph Bottum, "Holy War Over Ground Zero," First Things, August 30, 2010, www.firstthings.com/onthesquare/2010/08/holy-war-over-ground-zero (accessed May 20, 2011), l.
(62) Justin Elliott, "How the 'Ground Zero Mosque' Fear Mongering Began," Salon, August 16, 2010, http://www.salon.com/news/_politics/war room/2010/08/16/ground zero moque origins (accessed May 20, 2011), 3.
(63) Jonathan V. Last, "The Memorials We Deserve," The Weekly Standard, May 28, 2007, http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/013/680yigrm.asp (accessed May 20, 2011), 1-3.
(64) Christopher Hitchens, "Mau-Mauing the Mosque," Slate. August 9, 2010, www.slate.com/id/2263334 (accessed May 20, 2011), 1-2.
(65) Linda G. Mills, "What He Knew Before It All Changed: A Narrative from Ground Zero," Grief Treatment and Crisis Intervention 2 (January 2002):23-3 I.
(66) James R. Rogers and Karen M. Soyka, "Grace and Compassion at 'Ground Zero,' New York City," Crisis: The Journal of Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention 25 (January 2004):27-29.
(67) Tony Walter, "From Cathedral to Supermarket: Mourning, Silence and Solidarity," Sociological Review 49 (November 2001):494-511.
(68) Erika S. Svendsen and Lindsay K. Campbell, "Living Memorials: Understanding the Social Meanings of Community-Based Memorials to September 11,2001," Environment and Behavior 42 (May 2010):318-34.
(69) Mitja D. Back, Albrecht C. P. Kfner, and Boris Egloff, "The Emotional Timeline of September 11, 2001," Psychological Science 21 (October 2010):1417-19.
(70) Richard Haas, War of Necessity, War of Choice: A Memoir of Two Iraq Wars (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2009), 4-6.
(71) Matt Schneider, "Congresswoman: Afghanistan War Is 'An Epic Failure, A National Embarrassment,'" Mediate, January 6, 2011, http://www.mediaite.com/tv/congresswomanafgfhanistan-war-is-an-e.pic- failure-a-national-embarrassment/ (accessed May 20, 2011), 1.
(72) Colin Murray Parkes, "Grief: Lessons from the Past, Visions for the Future," Death Studies 26 (May 2002):367-85.
(73) Mary Marshall Clark, "The September 11, 2001, Oral History Narrative and Memory Project: A First Report," Journal of American History 89, no. 2 (September 2002):577.
(74) Rebecca E. Deen, "Loss and Renewal: Transforming Tragic Sites," Journal of American History 90, no. 1 (June 2003):191-93.
(75) Linda S. Watts, "Reflecting Absence or Presence? Public Space and Historical Memory at Ground Zero," Space and Culture 12 (November 2009):412-18.
(76) Joseph Nevins, "The Abuse of Memorialized Space and the Redefinition of Ground Zero," Journal of Human Rights 4 (April 2005):267-82.
(77) Bennett Roth, "Second Thoughts at Ground Zero," Psychoanalytic Review 94 (March 2007):245-62.
(78) Jon D. Bohland, "Visiting September 11th: The Intersections of Travel, Terror, and the Nation at the New Tourist Landscape of Group Zero," Paper Delivered at the Annual Meeting of the Western Political Science Association (Portland, OR), March 12, 2004, 4.
(79) James E. Young, "The Stages of Memory at Ground Zero," in Religion, Violence, Memory, and Place, eds. Oren Baruch Stier and J. Shawn Landres (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2006), 214-34.
(80) Debbie Lisle, "Gazing at Ground Zero: Tourism, Voyeurism and Spectacle," Journal for Cultural Research 8 (January 2004):3-21.
(81) Philip Nobel, Sixteen Acres." Architecture and the Outrageous Struggle for the Future of Ground Zero (New York: Metropolitan Books, 2005), 254-55.
(82) Doug Caverly, "Port Authority Retires 'Freedom Tower' Name," NYC Tower, March 27, 2009, http://www.nyc-tower.com/2009/03/27/port-authority-retires-freedom-towername/ (accessed May 20, 2011), 1.
(83) Marita Sturken, Tourists of History: Memory; Kitsch, and Consumerism from Oklahoma City to Ground Zero (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2007), 4-7.
(84) Jonathan Alter, "Bin Laden's Death May Be Marker in U.S. History," Bloomberg.com, May 2, 2011, http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-05-02/bin-laden-death-marks-turnin- u-s-history-commentary-by-jonathan-alter.html (accessed May 20, 2011), 1-2.
(85) Kayla Webley and Paul Moakley, "Crowds, Chaos and Some Closure at Ground Zero," Time, May 2, 2011, http:/lightbox.time.com/2011/05/02/crowds-chaos-and-someclosure-at- ground-zero/#1 (accessed May 20, 2011), 2 (both quotes).
(86) Stanton Peele, "The Meaning of Bin Laden's Death," Psychology Today, May 2, 2011, http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/addiction-in-society/201105/the- meaning-bin-ladens-death (accessed May 20, 2011), 1.
(87) Melani McAlister, "A Cultural History of the War Without End,'" Journal of American History 89, no. 2 (September 2002):439-55.
(88) Karen Espiritu and Donald G. Moore, "'Beyond Ground Zero': The Future of Critical Thought after 9/11," Review of Education, Pedagogy & Cultural Studies 40, nos. 3 & 4 (July-October 2008):209.
(89) Jeffrey Melnick, 9/11 Culture: America Under Construction (Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009), 65 (both quotes).
ERIC D. MILLER is an Associate Professor of Psychology at Kent State University-East Liverpool in East Liverpool, Ohio.
To our loving, kindhearted, and fun dad, Michael Timley.... We love you so very much and miss you more and more each day! Love, Lisa, Jenna, Steve, & Chad.
I am convinced that [G]round [Z]ero must first and foremost be a memorial.... People a hundred years from now should be able to grasp the enormity of this attack by visiting this sacred ground. Ground [Z]ero is a cemetery. It is the last resting place for loved ones whose bodies were not recovered and whose remains are still within that hallowed ground. We must respect the role these events play in our history.... If it were up to me, I'd devote the entire 16 acres to the memorial.... Done correctly, the memorial at [G]round [Z]ero will commemorate the horror and the heroism of Sept. 11. If we don't do this correctly--if we let some minor memorial be dwarfed by office space--people a hundred years from now will say this generation did not understand the significance of that world-altering day. (12)
The terrorist attack is still an open wound. Flowers and candles can still be seen in front of firehouses that lost men, and [G]round [Z]ero remains a somber pilgrimage site. T-shirts proclaim that we will 'never forget.' But we do forget. Like many before it, the '66 fire has begun fading into history. All that now remains at the site, a high-rise on East 23rd Street facing Madison Square Park, is a small bronze plaque with the date and the names of the dead. (13)
People want to move and take office space, commercial space, residential space that we're going to build.... [P]eople say, 'Well that's a cemetery,' that's not exactly what a rental agent wants to have out there. So we've got to find a balance like anything else. (15)
Forever we'll be inherently tied to it.... We're finding that visitors don't care about a comparison in casualty figures.... They're looking to come to a place where the nation has gone through a horrible experience and survived it. They've been looking for an anchor--something to show them that bad things had happened before and we recovered from it. (36)
Antietam is not the most well known battlefield site, and not the easiest to get to.... [W]hen you get here, you're actually going to see--I won't call it reality, because no one will ever be able to present the reality--but to get as close as you can to that period in time. (38)
Pearl Harbor could be to 9/11 what the Last Stand and the Alamo had been to Pearl Harbor: a widely recognized iconic tale of threat and harm that worked to rally patriotism, marshal manly virtues, and promise eventual and righteous triumph to a nervous nation. The Pearl Harbor story, however, could also raise more complicated issues of fixing blame for intelligence failures and of the nation's relationship with immigrant communities. (43)
Pearl Harbor provided the beginning for stories that both vilified Japan as an enemy and rehabilitated it as an ally. It sparked Japanese American memories of both compliance and resistance.... In most invocations immediately after September 11, Pearl Harbor provided a relatively uncomplicated call for national unity and personal commitment to a war to the end against 'evil.' (44)
Relics trigger recollection, which history affirms and extends backward in time. History in isolation is barren and lifeless; relics mean only what history and memory convey. Indeed, many artifacts originated as memorial or historical witness. Significant apprehension of the past demands engagement with previous experience, one's own and others', along all three routes. (47)
generally discouraged from public displays of grief, [but] people go to these sites to see and touch real-life tragedy, to weep and mourn and feel in socially acceptable situations. (50)
withstood the unimaginable trauma of the destruction and stand as eloquent as the Constitution itself, asserting the durability of democracy and the value of individual life. (53)
Consider a group approaching the memorial some year after the redevelopment of the site is complete.... [V]isitors will step off their tour bus or come up from the subway.... They will be surrounded by sky-scrapers, newer than their neighbors but otherwise indistinguishable;.... In all likelihood, the site will still attract its share of entrepreneurs and sidewalk philosophers, working the five million visitors the memorial is expected to draw each year. It will be hard to enforce good taste; the city is incorrigible. All around, New Yorkers long inured to the ghosts of the place will be carrying on, moving in and out of the bright lobbies, shopping along the lines of bright stores. Our visitors will be standing on the site itself, but without a guide, they won't know it, and that fact alone will serve to tame the scale of the catastrophe. (81)
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