Design for 9/11 memorial unveiled

Revised plan includes artifacts from attack and tribute to rescuers

January 15, 2004|By Josh Getlin | Josh Getlin,LOS ANGELES TIMES

NEW YORK - New York officials unveiled yesterday revised plans for a memorial to the victims of Sept. 11, a design dominated by two reflecting pools and a dense grove of trees that will be the centerpiece of the rebuilt World Trade Center site.

The "Reflecting Absence" plan - which has been expanded to include a cultural center, a room with artifacts from the terror attacks and a chamber with unidentified remains - will offer "healing and remembrance, and mark the sacrifice of those who died here," Gov. George E. Pataki said.

But the memorial also might be a monument to enduring controversy. The selection of architect Michael Arad's design this month only intensified a long-running debate over how victims' names should be listed on a wall at the site.

During a late-night meeting with family members Tuesday, the architect and other officials decided against putting firefighters' and other rescue workers' names in a separate list, as those groups had asked. Instead, the memorial will list all the victims randomly but allow for a special insignia to be placed after rescue workers' names.

"I think this reflects the feeling of many families, that everybody gets a dignified remembrance," said Nikki Stern, who lost her husband, a financial analyst, in the attacks. She is a member of the Family Advisory Council that helped select the winning memorial design.

"But we also wonder where you draw the line," she added. "Should the families of airline stewardesses have a set of wings next to their loved one's name? Should members of corporations have their corporate logo listed after their name, too?"

The decision drew immediate criticism from rescue workers, who said their unique sacrifices on Sept. 11 were being ignored. Firefighters, police and other groups said they supported the idea of one common memorial, but were visibly angered that the rescue workers couldn't be listed separately at the memorial.

"It's a disgrace," said Jim McCaffrey, a member of Firefighter Advocates for a 9-11 Fallen Heroes Memorial. "These are people who made the ultimate sacrifice to save others, and all we're asking is that they be given their own separate space in the list."

Such friction was to be expected, said Vartan Gregorian, chairman of a 13-member jury that selected Arad's design from 5,201 international entries in a competition that began in April. The task of finding a satisfactory memorial design for family members, rescue workers, neighborhood leaders and New York political figures - not to mention the nation as a whole - was difficult, he said.

The Los Angeles Times is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

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