On that fateful day just 11 years ago, New York’s heart stood still.
Nearly 3,000 people were killed in the terrorist attacks -- the greatest tragedy in New York’s history. I remember the sad hours and days that followed. We were shocked and stunned. Some of us were angry. But, mostly, we found it hard to believe that this terrible thing had happened.
Now, a dispute between Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Governor Andrew Cuomo threatens to delay the opening of the museum that is supposed to be at the very core of the memorial to the victims. The two leaders and their staffs, Charles Bagli of The New York Times reports, are at odds over who will pay the operating costs of the museum and who will have oversight over the museum and the surrounding memorial.
I remember the scene outside St. Paul’s Chapel on lower Broadway, in the days just after the attacks, when hundreds of notices were posted on the fence. Anxious families displayed their hopes -- and fears. Pictures of missing loved ones were placed there, their names and the names of the mothers, fathers, wives and husbands, and sisters and brothers seeking information about their whereabouts. In most cases, it was a futile quest. They were gone. But, in these early days, it was a case for many of hope against hope.
I remember that tableau of grief, the display outside St. Paul’s, the place where George Washington once prayed. That display on the iron fence was a portrait of our heart and soul. We were grieving for our lost loved ones and thinking about them and the sadness in their wake. One elderly woman mourned for her cousin. “Oh my God, “she wrote on September 13, 2001,”what ignorance has done. Give us hope to continue on.”
As for the dispute that’s holding up completion of the museum to the victims, a political analyst, Hank Sheinkopf, told me: “Blame it on the economy. Nobody has any money. Not the Port Authority , nor the state, nor the city. This dispute is about money, not politics. What are you going to do? At the moment, this problem is not soluble.”
Sally Regenhard lost her 28-year-old son, Christian, a probationary firefighter, on 9/11. She is a leader of Parents and Families of Fire Fighters and WTC Victims. She agrees with the governors of New York and New Jersey that there’s been “enormous waste” in constructing the memorial. Ms. Regenhard told me what’s happened is “a national disgrace” and she wants the federal government to take control since our local officials have failed to perform the task. Ms. Regenhard and her group believe the 9/11 memorial should be turned over to the National Park Service for the “responsible and quality management” they can provide.
The governors, in a letter, have called on the Park Service to take a role in funding and managing the memorial and museum. Are the governors, the mayor and other major characters in this drama engaged in a game of passing the buck? That’s how some critics of the effort to build the museum may see it. As of now, they have little cause for hope that the project will be completed soon.