The tragedy of the September 11th attacks is something that will never truly dissipate, even through the relentless march of time and progress, and its effects are still felt on a significant level by the families of all involved. Subsequently, there are occasional instances or situations which prompt an emotional response from the survivors and the families of the dead, and stir painful memories of the loss they have endured. While these are regrettable, they remind a nation and a government the importance of handling any affairs affiliated with 911 with the care and attention they require.
A New Memorial for 911 Survivors
This week, as plans were announced to house the unidentified remains of those who died at ground zero in the lower level of a commemorative museum, protests erupted from afflicted family members and advocates who claimed they were not consulted by US authorities concerning the exact location of the repository. This is at odds with the assertions of the US government, who maintain that dialogue has been going with the respective families since 2006, and that the response they have received has largely been positive.
Put simply, protesters have claimed that such a decision can not be made without the express permission of each and every family member, regardless of whether a majority consensus feels that the plans are both wise and well considered. In addition, there are further concerns that the main entrance to the museum is the same one which will grant mourners access to the repository, although the designers have taken great care to assert that the two are entirely separate entities. Despite this, some of the families have already revealed their support for the plans, claiming them to be respectful and designed to be sensitive to mourners needs.
Regardless of the supposed benefits or otherwise of the proposal, it is clear that the subsequent protests and outcry have benefited neither the government nor the families of those killed in 911, and ultimately served to create an undignified series of events. It has been a converse and unfortunate consequence of action by two individual parties, who although want nothing but a suitable memorial of those who died in the terrorist attacks, have contrived to create angst and distress where none should be necessary.
Remembering the Dead While Respecting the Living
In order to cultivate a balanced viewpoint, it should be stated that the concept of a commemorative museum and private repository for the dead is one that has many merits. These ideas show that the government is determined to learn from mistakes by historical regimes worldwide, who have often failed to create a suitable memorial or place of homage to slain war heroes or military representatives. To this end, the governments resolve to remember those who perished in the attacks of 911 is admirable, and something that should not be dismissed out of hand.
In terms of whether they have approached it with the required sensitivity however, there is far more cause for debate. Although it is an exceptionally difficult set of circumstances from which to conceive a memorial that suits the perspective of everyone, and that the government should be commended for forming such detailed ideas, something of such a sensitive nature certainly requires in depth dialogue and interaction with every single member of every victims family. Time consuming and fairly impractical this may be, it is the only sure way to remember the dead while respecting the wishes of the living.
Of course, there is debate as to the level of dialogue which has taken place between the memorial organizers and the families themselves, although the emotive response of certain protesters certainly suggests that there has been a severe breakdown of communication. Through a simple misunderstanding and absence of dialogue, a genuine gesture of heartfelt respect has been misconstrued as an act of dictatorial administration, and this more than anything highlights the inherent need for enhanced sensitivity and consideration when dealing with such issues.
Compromising to Remember Those Who Lost Their Lives
While the viewpoint of both the government and the individual families are well balanced and valid, there are two significant factors that should be considered to create a mutually agreeable resolution. Firstly, it should be remembered that both parties want nothing more than to create a suitably significant memorial for those who tragically lost their lives, and that an increased level of dialogue would help to draw the government and their people ever closer in the quest for a respectful homage.
Secondary to this, both parties must be prepared to compromise if a suitable memorial is to be agreed on, as otherwise one would never be forthcoming in the face of individual objections and concerns. It is ultimately the individual families right to decide what they and their loved ones would have wanted, which is why each must have their say in any decision making process. Through the acts of discussion and compromise, a well supported commemorative idea can be settled upon, while offering those who wish to honor their loved ones privately may be allowed to do so without recrimination.