Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Rebuilding of Ground Zero, Part 168

The new Fiterman Hall, which is part of the Borough of Manhattan Community College Campus, is set to reopen next week. The original building was heavily damaged by the collapsing Twin Towers and 7WTC during 9/11. It sat in limbo until 2009 when city and state officials agreed upon a course of action to demolish and rebuild the structure.

The building differs greatly from the design aesthetic of the other towers going up in and around the World Trade Center complex. Rather than glass curtain walls, Fiterman Hall is dominated by concrete panels that mimic the look of brick and mortar. Despite the use of the brick-style panels, there's something cold and antiseptic about the design.

Meanwhile, families groups are still fighting over where and how to retain the remains of the unidentified victims from the attacks. Officials had planned to put the remains in a secured vault/crypt area beneath the Memorial/Museum complex, but some families want them to be located at a ground-level location. The latest fight over the remains has extended to demands to make public the list of all victims' relatives names and addresses so that those fighting for the changes can have the names to poll them.
Memorial developers plan to keep them 70 feet below ground, entombed behind a granite wall emblazoned with the Virgil quote: "No day shall erase you from the memory of time."

Rosemary Cain, whose firefighter son George Cain died on 9/11, said keeping the “sacred remains” in the basement is “not respectful” and “not a tribute to any of the blessed victims.”

“We want them above ground, we want them in a place of respect and dignity,” she said. "They don’t belong in the bowels of a museum, turning that place into a freak show.”

Many relatives, like retired FDNY deputy chief Jim Riches, whose firefighter son, Jim Riches Jr. was killed, want the city to build an aboveground commemorative tomb.

“We want a proper burial for our loved ones,” Riches said. “They’re American heroes, they died heroes that day and they deserve better than to be put in a basement of a memorial museum."

A spokeswoman for the 9/11 Memorial declined to comment on the appeal Monday and referred questions to the city. The memorial is not a party in Siegel’s lawsuit.

In the past, representatives of the museum said that the remains would not be on display and that the space would be managed by the Medical Examiner's office.

In addition, the museum also plans a private family room adjacent to the repository where relatives can reflect in privacy.

The remains will be periodically tested by the Medical Examiner to continue attempts to identify them.

In the past, several 9/11 family members wrote a letter of support for the plan, saying it "treats the remains with the utmost care, respect and reverence."

A spokesman for the National September 11 Memorial & Museum has said rebuilding officials have repeatedly consulted with families, through many mailings, forums and hearings over the past 10 years.

"[The families] have repeatedly stated it is essential the remains return to the sacred bedrock of the site," the spokesman has said.
A fight is continuing over plans to restore the Ground Zero cross to the Museum. Atheists have fought the plan, claiming that that would be state-sanctioned support of religion, but that ignores that it was an artifact revealed in the decimated remains of the World Trade Center complex, and that it came to be a source of hope and support for those working to find victims and remains of those murdered in the attacks.


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