From Tons of Steel, Build Hearts of Gold
By Bonnie Chernin Rogoff
Founder, Jews For Life
September 19, 2001
It's been a week since the two Twin Towers have plunged to the earth.
I remember when the towers were constructed. Like many New Yorkers, I thought they protruded obscenely out of nowhere. Not pretty, certainly not graceful, they loomed above our heads, making us feel uncomfortable. I couldn't understand the humongous architectural design, or why we had to eclipse the Empire State Building.
As years went by and the towers graced the skyline, the people adjusted. The World Trade Center towers came to be recognized and appreciated, even worshipped by some, as an integral part of Manhattan's background. It was a glittering silhouette against a black sky, something we can count on. Now a massive heap of smoldering rubble, they've been carted away and we can't count on them anymore. No more skyline.
A majority of people who were uncomfortable years ago with the towers' construction are now uncomfortable that they are missing. They want to rebuild. How times have changed.
In an article entitled "Tragedy Turns Back the Clock," the New York Post on Sunday, September 16 quotes a security guard who works at the Empire State Building. Of that building, he said:
"It's like a great love affair that ended tragically. With her two men gone, she's a sad and lonely lady."
We spend so much time assigning human characteristics to inanimate objects. The New York Times is "the gray lady." Hurricanes are named after women, and now men. A ship out to sea is referred to as "she," not "it."
It has been one week since thousands of lives have perished. Those lives need to be memorialized. Their deaths have to be avenged.
Many Americans believe that not rebuilding the towers is the equivalent of a concession to the terrorists. Former New York Mayor Ed Koch believes the towers should be rebuilt "according to the original plans," and that not to do so would "destroy the Wall Street area." State Senator Roy Goodman (R-Manhattan) believes an office building should be built on a different site as "a symbol of the regenerative capacity of our free, democratic society." Certainly, we can rebuild a modified office complex, but not on the spot where those people died. That should be reserved for a Memorial Park, with an eternal flame. Otherwise, future generations will quickly forget what happened here, and why it must be remembered.
I remember the last time I saw the Twin Towers. It was Saturday, August 25, 2001. My husband and I had to go into lower Manhattan to attend to some important business. We stopped at the beautiful Trinity Church and walked through the graveyard, stopping to visit Alexander Hamilton's grave. From that vantage point, only three blocks away, stood the two giant buildings. They were clearly visible against a perfect blue sky, a sky as blue as the one that witnessed their destruction.
I looked at the towers with a sense of admiration, never dreaming that was the last time I'd see them standing upright again.
I don't care. I don't miss them. I miss the human life that resided inside them for so many hours in a business day. Those human lives were like embryos, invisible to the naked eye outside the structures that held them, but living human beings nonetheless. They were aborted by evil. They cannot be reborn.
For the sake of humanity and out of respect for those families whose hearts were torn asunder, I say, do not rebuild. Not in lower Manhattan. Not at this time.
I'm sure the Hollywood producers are already planning a multi-trillion dollar movie project, totally oblivious to the agony of the survivors. We won't be able to stop much of the profit ventures that will ensue from this horror. No amount of money can bring back the dead.
Lest thousands of people one day be forgotten, let's keep our concern where it belongs - with the victims' families. They are still alive. The towers have been annihilated. Let's remember what really counts. Let their loved ones be memorialized where they perished. Let's let our consciences and feelings rise higher and taller than the Twin Towers ever did.
Copyright 2001 by Bonnie Chernin Rogoff. Not to be reproduced in any fashion, in whole or in part, without written consent from the author. All rights reserved.