People photograph names of loved ones on a plaque in honor of FDNY firefighters who have died from illnesses related to working at ground zero on Sept. 8, 2011.
The tragedy of 9/11 is compounded by the feuding over the ceremony and the memorial at ground zero.
What a shameful commentary this is on the ability of our leaders to give the martyrs of the attack on the World Trade Center the respect and admiration they deserve.
It seems as though it’s becoming impossible to honor anyone without public officials and politicians trying to glom their way in. It’s pathetic. Mayor Bloomberg has decreed that no elected officials will speak at this year’s ceremony. The solemn reading of 2,983 names by family members will be the ceremony’s main feature. But the mayor’s action may not be without political motive.
New York Governor Cuomo and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie are engaged in a power struggle with Bloomberg. The governors, insiders say, want to take control of the events and other decisions at the memorial. One official at the Port Authority, appointed by the two governors, said: “The Mayor doesn’t own 9/11.” A city official insisted the mayor stepped in when the memorial project was stalled and raised $450 million to build it.
The behind-the-scenes bickering has turned off some survivors of the people who died on 9/11. Sally Regenhard, whose son, Christian, a 28-year-old probationary fire fighter, perished on 9/11, bristled with anger at what’s happened.
“Family members have been disenfranchised,” she told me. “We’ve had no role in the planning of the memorial or in picking the designs. In saying that no elected officials will speak at this year’s ceremonies, the mayor is trying to silence them and get more control over the memorial. The victims of 9/11 are being used by all the politicians. Again. It’s a disgrace.”
It’s sad indeed that the greatest tragedy in New York’s history has, in the last analysis, produced nothing but politics as usual.