Viewpoint: Retiring Ground Zero

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Remembering 9/11

Ground Zero, in Americans’ hearts, represents a time in our nation’s history when our preconceived notions of safety came crashing down with the World Trade Center.

Ground Zero, in Americans’ hearts, represents a meeting place of heroes, determined to rescue the souls trapped under mountains of concrete and steel.

Ground Zero, in Americans’ hearts, represents an image of the past, burned in our minds and our hearts for as long as we shall live.

Michael Bloomberg, mayor of New York, believes it’s time we retire the term “Ground Zero” and put it in the past, focusing instead on our promising future.

“We will never forget the devastation of the area that came to be known as ‘Ground Zero.’ Never,” he said. “But the time has come to call those 16 acres what they are: The World Trade Center and the National September 11th Memorial and Museum.”

Though quite a mouthful, I agree with the mayor. While looking at pictures of the new, breathtaking memorial site I realized something.

The area subjected to a brutal and heartless attack has disappeared.

In its place remains a stunning memorial to the victims, the heroes and the nation.

Two colossal structures cascade water into a square basin, marking the foundations of the two felled towers.

Engraved deep in the bronze outline, the names of those who lost their lives shine bright with the help of a backlight.

Surrounding these fountains, the largest of their kind in North America, grow white oak trees, chosen for their beauty.

This is not Ground Zero — it is so much more.

The families of those who died no longer look upon the barren landscape left in the aftermath.

They no longer see the destruction, the devastation and the despair.

Instead of rubble, they see oaks — tall and mighty, raising their heads to heaven.

Instead of death, they see remembrance — the names of the dead engraved forever in bronze.

Instead of pain, they see hope — hoping, maybe, a day will come when they too will be healed like the land.

I in no way mean to pretend this memorial acts as a miracle cure for those with aching hearts — it does not. It’s more like a Band-Aid, patching a sore and making each day a little more bearable.

Maureen Wheeler lost a brother working in the towers.

“It’s peaceful to know that he’s remembered,” she said. “It’s like being with him again.”

Wheeler’s brother — David Ruddle — will never be forgotten. Nor will those who surrounded him as the towers fell. Nor will those within the planes.

New York was not the only place affected by vile acts of terror. Washington, D.C., felt a blow, as did Pennsylvania.

Their memorials have been raised. Their dead remembered.

Our responsibility, as citizens, as people somewhat removed, is to remember without the memorial.

Remember the sacrifice, remember the heroes.

And, remember Mayor Bloomberg’s plea. Ground Zero is the past — a terrible past we should remember but not allow it to consume. The memorial, and the hope it sparks, is the future.

That day in September will always affect us. We will never escape its shadow, but we cannot allow ourselves to be lost in its darkness.

In the darkness, we found hope. We united and became stronger. We put aside our differences and fought for a cause. Remember that. Remember the sacrifice.

Never forget.

Allie McCoy is the opinion editor for The Daily Universe. This viewpoint represents her opinion and not necessarily that of The Daily Universe, BYU, its administration or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.


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