Policy

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Policy

  1. 1. Christa Youngern<br />Contemporary Issues in Public Policy<br />Dr. Marichal<br />12/14/09<br />How should September Eleventh be Remembered? <br />I was at the start of eighth grade on September Eleventh 2001. We all know where we were, what we were doing, like when John F. Kennedy was killed, or when the Challenger crashed. It is an event in my life that I will never forget, and that I will make sure my children know the significance of. But should government be involved in the “rememberence” of that day? Should it be distinguished on all future calendars apart from September tenth and September twelfth? Or should individuals take it upon themselves to keep the memory alive? <br />Should September Eleventh be a National Day of anything? There have been so many thoughts on how that day should be remembered. Some politicians would like to make it a National Day of Service. Should anything be done on that day? If so, then what? If not, why? When I started this project the idea of making 9/11 a national day of service was just being toyed with. Today however, as I finish this project, it has become official. 9/11 is a National Day of Service.<br />President Obama believes that designating September eleventh as a National Day of Service would honor that day through charitable initiatives like blood drives, food donations, and area clean-ups. I admit, it seems that doing good things in memory of a tragic event is a positive way to remember that event, and a nod to out American values and character. To do good for others on a day marked with brazen violence and death, would be the ultimate counter. <br />However, I still believe that designating 9/11 as anything other than what it was, is to do it a disservice. The true meaning of that day is likely to be lost in the melee of good actions. If one wishes to honor those lost on September eleventh by doing service, cleaning the oil of seagulls, or volunteering time in soup kitchens or toy drives, then wonderful. Everyone should be able to remember that day in their own way, without the government butting in. So I’ll shift my focus for this project from discussing the valididty of a National Day of Service, to what sort of memorial should be built at ground zero, and in what other ways it ought to be remembered. <br />What would an equitable outcome look like? The pentagon memorial is finished. When I drove by it in Spring of 2002 there was a big digital clock you could see from the freeway, counting down the days, minutes, seconds, until the wall taken out in the attacks would be rebuilt: September 11th 2002. It was finished exactly on time. People were actually able to work in their offices 28 days early. <br />The groundbreaking on June 15, 2006 marked the beginning of construction on the Memorial. The park itself is designed to be a place of remembrance, reflection, and renewal, and is structured in a highly specific and unique way. Consisting of 184 memorial units dedicated to each individual victim, the park is organized as a timeline of the victims’ ages, spanning from Dana Falkenberg, age 3, to John Yamnicky, age 71. Additionally, to distinguish victims on board Flight 77 from those who were inside the Pentagon, 59 memorial units face one direction, and 125 face the other. The park is also defined with an age wall: a wall that raises in height one inch per year relative to the age lines running along the memorial benches, growing from 3 inches above the perimeter bench at Dana’s memorial, to 71 inches above the bench at Mr. Yamnicky’s. This memorial was completed in September of 2008, two years after it was started. So it took a committee of people five years to decide on a design, and two years to build it. Surely there was some red tape and bickering, but it got done. The Ground Zero memorial is still an open wound in downtown New York. There is a train station, and a small makeshift memorial in the passage of the station, but nothing solid. <br />The field in Pennsylvania where Flight 93 crashed has a temporary memorial built by the people of Shanksville. It's in the middle of an open field, miles from the nearest town, and many miles from the nearest freeway interchange or Starbucks. There's room for all of America to express its opinion. To get to the Flight 93 Crash Site, visitors drive down an empty two-lane road, past a tall junkyard pile of scrapped Pepsi vending machines and a sign that reads, " We Buy Scrap Metals." The actual crash site, way out in a big, empty field, is marked with a small cross and an American flag. Back by the road is the ad hoc memorial, created by the people -- like a highway fatality shrine that's been given its own parking area and porta-potties. A small open shed contains a guest register and scrapbooks of photos and news clips. A length of hurricane fence has been erected to hold hats, photos, poems, home-made signs. This is an example of what the polis does when the government takes forever to get things done. The people are always able to do the job. <br />The metal guardrails around the parking lot are covered with patriotic bumper stickers and Sharpie scrawls, pledges of remembrance, vows of revenge, prayers and thanks from appreciative citizens. People bend over, quietly reading the guardrail. There are benches with names inscribed in them, and a slew of personal messages taped to rocks, photos, and just scattered in the grass.<br />Staten Island was one of the hardest hit communities of 9/11, losing 270 people. The borough president got a committee together, which included 9/11 families and community representatives, and made a memorial their top priority. He allocated 2 million dollars for its completion. Working with the community, the government accomplished a beautiful and aggreable memorial with minimal red tape and argument. Construction was started September 11th 2003, after accepting submissions, and was completed a year later on the same date. <br />The site where the Twin Towers stood is still a hole in the ground, like an open wound covered by a horrible field dressing. Though the whole country felt 9/11, I feel it would be equitable for only the families of those killed in the towers, and those who survived, to make decisions regarding development of the site. Since a national effort would be extremely time consuming, I would be willing to trust the survivors and families to make that decision for me. <br />What is the best way of achieving an equitable outcome? The market or the polis? The polis is the best way to achieve an equitable outcome. The Market can definitely be involved, but only in collaboration with the people. Being that this issue is so close to our hearts, it would be inappropriate to leave it to the market, which is about bottom lines and not necessarily heartfelt memorials. An equitable outcome would involve families, community representatives, and as few politicians as possible. Politicians would simply be the tools that the people use to accomplish their collective will over an issue, in this case, the Ground Zero Memorial.<br />All hope of efficiency is lost, so there's no helping it there. However, I believe if we want to be more efficient in the future, government and all things federal and special interest need to be absent in a bigger capacity. It should be up to the polis, not the market or the government to decide what ought to happen and how. The people of this country are efficient and decisive, and will accomplish results in no time at all if left to them. Red tape is so thick that regular people who were actually victims of September Eleventh have had their voices lost. Remove the government, leave it to the people, that would be efficient. Eight years is plenty.<br />The security that could be achieved would depend on what is done with the site. Security of whatever is built in the place of the Twin Towers is of significant concern, how do we ensure more terrorist attacks don’t happen? Can we ensure that more don’t happen? I’m not sure, but we can do our best. To make people feel secure working in a building that sits on the site where another building was recently destroyed by terrorists, might include individual high rise parachutes for every employee, a sounder internal structure (That's not to say that the twin towers were unsoundly built), and a lot of heavy advertising to get people behind the idea. <br />The market and the polis would have to work together on this project. I think overall it would have to be kept simple, as in this is what we’re building (and ideally a majority would agree with the design), this is what it will include (business’, cultural centers, performing arts, stores etc), and this is how we will make sure it doesn’t happen again. There is no way to ensure complete safety, even the president has an occasional uninvited guest, but we can take strict measures to ensure the most amount of safety possible. <br />Whatever is eventually (fingers crossed) built there, we could have people go through the same process they do upon entering a federal building in Washington DC. Metal detecting door frames, wanding, and searches if necessary and warranted. It could be similar to airport security. <br />The best definition of free for my issue, would be freedom from rather than freedom to. Freedom would look like a distinct lack of government interference. The people would be able to plan and create what they thought was appropriate for that spot with little bother, sort of like a sovereignty of Ground Zero. <br />I believe the ideal notion of freedom was reached at the Staten Island memorial, where the community and the 9/11 families had the biggest say, and ensured the interests were properly represented. The polis is the best way of achieving freedom. The polis will not mess it up, because freedom is what the American polis is about. The people value freedom, and the government values control, so keeping the government out of the picture except as an arm for accomplishing things, would be the freest way to go. <br />The main frames that are used when discussing what should be done to remember September Eleventh, are " Hope" " Renewal" " Sustainable" . Yes, the World Trade Center Plaza will pursue the gold LEED status for green building. The museum and two reflecting pools are supposed to inspire hope, and the trees which are vibrant in the fall are meant to symbolize renewal.I don't necessarily think the public is being manipulated, but the spotlight is intentionally being pointed away from this issue. What really bothers me about the website where this information was found is that they ask for donations, saying they are crucial to the completion of the plaza. We probably could have found the money to build the memorial in just the pork of the stimulus bill. So they aren't being manipulated but they don't have an accurate view of what’s going on either.<br />How does this image frame the debate among the public? This picture draws from some pretty powerful mental associations of courage, honor, and bravery. It is purposefully reminiscent of the timeless image of the three soldiers raising the flag at Iwo Jima. That’s not a bad thing. If I had taken this photo, I would have seen a modern day Iwo Jima too. This image also reflects the general patriotic sentiments that we all felt after September Eleventh. A strong pride in our country and a strengthening of our convictions.<br />Construction of Staten Island’s 9/11 Memorial began on September 11th, 2003finished a year later. Story: Being that the Staten Island memorial is much smaller of an endeavor than what has been planned for Ground Zero, it would be unreasonable to expect it to be done in the same time frame. However, it has been 8 years, and Ground Zero is still a hole in the ground...and a train station.Frame: There is too much bickering, arguing, and selfishness going on with the construction plan. If the plan is too controversial then lets scrap it and start over, rather than waste more time.<br />One interest that is involved with the Ground Zero Memorial is the the National September 11 Memorial and Museum at the World Trade Center. This organization is responsible for the building of the actual memorial, which is necessary. I don't think there is another interest that should be involved; it should be kept as small as possible in terms of " Interests." I think whether you choose to involve yourself in the process of Ground Zero construction is entirely up to you. It's not a crucial social issue like gun control or abortion, though it may be just as heated at times. On top of that, there really isn't an outlet for people outside New York City to be involved with it in any significant way. The only thing people like us would be able to do, would be to donate money to the fund. Even then, we have no say in how anything goes down, or any power to influence decisions.<br />Causal story: Eight years after September Eleventh, Ground Zero has not been memorialized yet. This is a mechanical causal story, the process that people have designed to decide what should be built and how to build it, is flawed. It involves too many entities, follows arbitrary rules (the rules for the memorial design contest were changed for the winning design by Michael Arad), and depends upon politicians to accomplish goals. <br />One could also call this an accidental causal story, in the sense that some person or party is unintentionally holding up progress, due to either their own ignorance or mistakes. However, I believe that the process, something that people have built or created, is the cause of the hold up.<br />I would use either of these designations to tell a story of decline. The American people were attacked on 9/11, rebounded through love, bravery, and selflessness, and are now stuck in a rut of opinion, arguing, and selfishness. No one is hearing anyone else, and everyone is focused on their own hurt and feelings too much to acknowledge others. I think it is very clearly a story of decline. We went from complete unity and charity after 9/11, right back to partisanship and politics as usual. We forgot the post 9/11 feelings we had, where it didn’t make a difference what anyone looked like, or what they believed, we helped others simply because they were Americans, and they needed a hand. <br />Rudy Guiliani, the mayor of New York City during September Eleventh 2001, stated that a memorial must be built at Ground Zero. Not only must it be built, but it must not lose face to office space or anything tasteless. It has to reflect the meaning of that day, and has to be big. <br />Mayor Bloomberg, the current mayor of New York City, believes that a smaller memorial might be more prudent. Being that there has been such a fuss over the initial design, a smaller one might be easier to handle. He also thinks that it shouldn’t be too memorial-like. He fears that if it looks too much like a memorial, it will be difficult to lure people back to that area, whatever it becomes. This was a rather offensive view to the 9/11 families, who think putting business concerns over the memories of those lost would be to detract honor and respect from the meaning. <br />Commentator Glenn Beck believes the best thing that we could do to remember September Eleventh, would be to rebuild the Twin Towers bigger and better than they were before, after all, what could be a bigger insult to the terrorists that would threaten us, than to simply build it again? It would be a strong statement that America is untied, we bounce back, and we will never be beat. <br />In the anniversaries following 9/11, George Bush was at Ground Zero to lay wreaths, give speeches on the heroism of that day, and to reassure the people. He never stated what he thought should be done to remember the day; instead believing it was the peoples job to decide and not the governments. He chose to memorialize that day through the communion of people, and not through the establishment of any formal rule or plan. He simply created a tradition and followed it until the end of his term. <br />I think in order to move the project along as efficiently as possible, a set of hard deadlines would need to be met, with managerial changes as result of failure to meet them. When people’s job depends on success, the job will get done. If policy tools could be used for the benefit of this project that would probably be a good thing. But since it is run by a government organization that gives much of its power to the people it has appointed, there is not actual bite behind the bark...sort of like the U.N.<br />Overall, the polis should have the largest say in what happens at Ground Zero, especially the polis in New York City. Though it was a national tragedy of historic proportions, it should be the community that was affected most by it, that is given the responsibility for making decisions. As deeply as I was changed by that day, and as much as I would like to be involved in the planning of the memorial, I didn’t lose any family or friends on that day. My opinion is not worth as much in the decision making process as those who did. <br />

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