Another national observance of defeat

Another year, another anniversary, another national observance of defeat.

One more annual reminder of how we blew the chance to prove our strength of character.

The recent wrangling over who’s responsible for funding the National September 11 Memorial & Museum is just the latest bit of evidence of how that terrorist attack has redefined this country for the worse. Also consider “the iron curtain of security surrounding the site,” a mashup of all the inconveniences that nervous authorities have devised to make citizens think that their government is on top of terrorism.

Then, of course, there’s the design itself, an evocative display of respect for our dead whose redundant symbols of loss hammer home how much we miss them.

But the fact that the memorial’s centerpiece is a fearful double void is something to regret. We merely compounded our weakness when we decided to commemorate the tragedy of 9/11 with these symbolic representations of absence.

The site’s twin holes in the ground–footprints of a rampaging monster–are exactly the opposite memorial image we should be projecting. They say: You have taken American lives; look at what we’ve lost.

Instead we should have restored the New York skyline, not to feature two open graves, but two upthrust fingers. The rebuilt twin towers–rebuilt to correct previous design and construction flaws–could’ve housed a suitable memorial to the victims while erasing the most obvious evidence of the attack.

Imagine what a recreation of the familiar, iconic New York City profile would’ve defiantly declared: You have taken American lives, but you cannot take our resolve. There is a hole in our hearts, but our will and our courage is undiminished. We can take your best shot and show no sign of demolished ideals, liberties, or spirit. We will carry on, not pretending that nothing happened, but constantly reminded of our dedication to keep this great nation whole.

Then this anniversary would not be an observance what has killed us. It would be a celebration of what has made us stronger.

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