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I Sit And Look Out

Build Ground Zero memorial now without politics

Seven years ago, on a day that cannot be forgotten, 19 murderers killed thousands of people in four suicide attacks in the United States. It is impossible for rational human beings to understand the depth of the hatred of the men who committed these acts and of those who sent them on such a heinous path.

Sept. 11 did more than distress our nation. It had an effect that reverberated around the world. It led to a war in Afghanistan, which is getting worse because we missed our chances early on and then, based on deliberate lies, we sent our young men and women to die in Iraq.

The horrific acts that day helped turn this nation into a fortress state. Think for a moment what the United States was like before 9/11 and what it has become since. The murderers and their enablers — including the nations which spawned and sheltered them — did their work.

This nation, for centuries the ideal of democracy, has become a nation to be scorned in the eyes of our allies around the world because of how we have acted. We have ignored our own laws and international agreements. We have used torture in our own facilities and sanctioned it by the "extraordinary rendition" of prisoners to other countries, where they have been tortured.

The murderers' patrons must be reveling in their achievement, for it is beyond anything they could have hoped for from four airplanes.

Next week, I will be at a meeting on the fourth floor of 90 Church St. The south-facing windows of the building overlook Ground Zero, and that infamous day will be brought home to me again. Although I have not been at the site in some time, I have followed the efforts which have been made to make the area something better than what it was.

Perhaps we got our hopes up too soon and too high. Former Gov. George Pataki is much to blame for this. He inserted himself into the planning and it became a shamble in many ways. We were not prepared to do the rebuilding job this site called for.

The Ground Zero Memorial has been changed so many times that it is almost impossible to know how it will look and how well it will function as a source of meditation on the events of 9/11 and the future. The wonderful soaring transportation center plan has been marked down to something almost banal.

The Freedom Tower has been changed, too, but Pataki's idea of having it cap out at 1,776 feet is still with us. Does anyone really care? The other towers which will ring the site do not appear to be anything special. They could be anywhere in the world, and that is the problem. They do not dignify this site.

At least now that the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey has taken command of the process, things may move forward. But please stop giving us dates and monetary figures that change as soon as they are released. Just get on with the job.

And let us also get on with the job of making sure that all those who suffered loss or damage that day are properly cared for. If we can throw away a trillion dollars in Iraq, we should not quibble about doing the right thing here.

Above all, let us remember all those who were murdered or damaged by making sure that the United States returns to being the democratic beacon to the world. That is the best way to deny the murderers their victory.

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