WTC Site Should Honor Lost Lives, Not Freedom

Congratulations on the Speck article. [“The Freedom Tower: ‘An Alienating Monument to Surrender’”] I couldn’t agree with him more. I also have thoughts on the issue of freedom as a theme for the WTC site.

On 9/11 we were attacked by terrorists. Innocent people were killed. However, freedom as a principle was not attacked. I do not argue against the idea that freedom is noble and deserves to be on a pedestal: our constitution already does that. But in the case of the WTC site, I would go as far as to say that [choosing a theme of freedom] diminishes the loss of life there by having the former compete with a commemoration of the latter.

I believe a memorial to the historic event of 9/11 is premature. It is arrogant to believe that we as a society are prepared to make a succinct statement regarding the meaning of that tragic event. It will take us a long time to place the event in the proper historic context, to make it part of our conscience, and to make our answers ring true. The theme of freedom, as noble as it may sound, is limiting at this time as a driving concept in this process.

Censorship and the principles of freedom are fundamentally in conflict. Censorship would be required to control the expressions, exhibits, and performances that are programmed by the cultural institutions selected for the WTC site. That is not acceptable.

The logical conclusion is to abandon the theme of freedom [at the WTC site]. It is good management to have a guiding theme, but in this case it should be 9/11 and the lives lost.

Roland Gebhardt
Roland Gebhardt Design
New York

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