Last week’s announcement that the National September 11 Memorial & Museum at Ground Zero will charge $20 to $25 per person to visit the museum was the last straw for me. I will pay my respects to the victims of 9/11 elsewhere.
It is outrageous that 12 years after the tragedy we still don’t have a museum. People have been playing politics with the project for more than a decade. It began when the focus was taken off the victims. For a while, it was suggested that their names be presented in random order and the memorial not be dedicated to them but to “man’s inhumanity to man for over a thousand years,” or some PC drivel to that effect.
Yes, it takes money to sustain a memorial and a museum. But the foundation that runs the site has already blown through hundreds of millions of dollars and now wants more. With a more efficiently planned project it could have been sustained by donations. But the agendas and bloated salaries of those running the project (average salary $300,000 per year each) has turned off many potential donors.
For a contrast, look at the Brooklyn Wall of Remembrance, which is maintained by donations. When I first walked past the Brooklyn Wall on my way to the beach at Coney Island, its simple eloquence stopped me in my tracks. Organized by volunteers, the wall was completed years ago.
The Brooklyn Wall depicts moving portraits of more than 400 first responders from Brooklyn killed on 9/11, each honored with a bronze plaque bearing his or her image. It has brought comfort to many families and stands in sharp contrast to the building of the memorial at Ground Zero.
It would be nice if future generations had a place to learn what happened and pay respects. But as someone who was downtown on 9/11, I don’t need reminders. The image of people running in horror from the burning towers is still fresh. The most vivid memory is of the fire trucks racing past my window, hearing the sirens wail and realizing these brave souls are racing toward the death trap.
Most of them lost their lives that day. It is obscene that many of their fellow firefighters and other people of modest means may find they can’t afford to take their families to the museum to pay respects.
You don’t have to wait until the 9/11 anniversary rolls around again to pay yours. Do so anytime at the Brooklyn Wall, or at the many other simple, respectful memorials in the five boroughs and beyond.
Just don’t do it at the disgraceful Ground Zero Memorial-Museum.