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NYC Out of the ashes Thursday, 13 December, 2001, 17:11 GMT
Part five: Remembering the dead
Memories of those who died in the World Trade Center attacks
Impromptu shrines have been created around the city
Peter Gould

How should America mark the events of 11 September ? BBC News Online reports on the suggestions being put forward.

How should America remember the events of 11 September?

In New York, scene of the greatest loss of life, there is certain to be a memorial at Ground Zero.


It seems like there's a hole in the sky

Tourist, Ground zero
But what form it will take has yet to be decided. And it is not clear how it will fit into any redevelopment of the site.

Some New Yorkers know what they want. At a recent baseball game, they held up a large picture of the Twin Towers with a simple caption: "Rebuild".

And one tourist visiting Manhattan this week put into words the feelings of many.

"It seems like there's a hole in the sky," he said.

Rebuilding the towers

To some, re-creating the towers would send the strongest possible message to the world that America will not be cowed by an act of terrorism.

But others would like to see the site, or a large part of it, turned over to a lasting memorial to everyone who died there.

Working on a building next to Ground Zero, construction worker Steven Spavone is adamant that it would be a mistake to create replicas of the Twin Towers.

"So many people have lost so much," he says. "They should put something there that is going to help rebuild lives and rebuild the area, and re-dedicate it to New Yorkers."

Ground Zero
Will the Twin Towers ever be rebuilt?
But Carol Willis, of the New York Skyscraper Museum, thinks that the city needs buildings that are tall and distinctive.

"I think everyone wants to see something that would fix the skyline of Lower Manhattan," she says.

"We could still build tall towers, but make them more slender and more elegant."

Some architects are already thinking of ways to replace the Twin Towers, but on a smaller scale.

Apart from financial considerations, there are doubts about whether office workers would be happy about going back into such tall buildings.

Memorial design

That still leaves the question of a memorial. An international competition seems likely, and some of the debris from Ground Zero is being preserved.

Designing a memorial involves difficult choices. The one built in Washington DC to commemorate the soldiers killed in Vietnam was controversial.

A sunken pathway takes the viewer past slabs of black granite containing the names of all those who died.

Oklahoma memorial site
The Oklahoma site has lines of empty chairs representing the victims
Some would have preferred a more traditional design, but others have found it powerful and moving.

Visit the memorial on any day of the year and you will see American families inspecting the inscriptions, looking for the names of loved ones, and leaving photographs and flags at the foot of the wall.

After the bomb that destroyed the Federal Building in Oklahoma City, the site was turned into a memorial park, with lines of empty chairs representing the 168 victims.

The approval of the families of the victims was considered crucial to the success of the project. But in New York, thousands of people want a say in the design, and it will be impossible to satisfy them all.

Many want a memorial park or museum to be created as a permanent reminder of the city's darkest day.

Makeshift memorials

The city is already looking at ways of preserving the many makeshift shrines that have appeared in public places close to the World Trade Center.

Rather than allow them to be destroyed by winter weather, the intention is to gather up the photographs, messages and poems that have so powerfully expressed the city's loss.

"After these earth-shattering events in the life of the city, we decided to be active and go out and collect history," says Kathleen Hulser, of the New-York Historical Society.

The personal accounts of those caught up in the tragedy will also be preserved, to provide a record of an unprecedented day in the life of the city.

Elsewhere, photographs taken by New Yorkers on September 11 have already gone on display, and such material could also become part of a permanent memorial.


Whatever happens to the site, most people seem to be agreed that the lost buildings are irreplaceable

While arguments continue about whether to rebuild, some architects have come up with a novel idea to recreate the Twin Towers...not in steel and glass, but with laser beams.

The idea is to project an image of the towers high into the night sky.

But whatever happens to the site, most people seem to be agreed that the lost buildings are irreplaceable.

"I would like to see the footprints of the Twin Towers remain a void...simple squares left as a vacant space," says Carol Willis, at the Skyscraper Museum.

It promises to be a lively debate. You can be sure that in the months ahead, New Yorkers will not be short of opinions about how best to remember 11 September.

Links to more NYC Out of the ashes stories are at the foot of the page.


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