Whenever I read the results of any poll, I automatically wonder who commissioned it and whether the questions were skewed to get a certain response. In other words, I don't trust polling data. One thing is certain, however: The government never ran a legitimate poll asking New Yorkers if they wanted the Twin Towers rebuilt. That's because the powers that be can't deal with an affirmative response. Instead what we had for nearly the past six years was the very slow construction of a building nobody wanted.
Now, according to an article by Scott Raab in the July issue of Esquire, this proposed edifice at ground zero is no longer to be called the Freedom Tower. The Port Authority has quietly renamed it One World Trade Center. If they start building Two World Trade Center and the Twin Towers rise again, that will really be cause for celebration. I wait with bated breath for proof that such gumption exists in this city.
Recently I viewed pictures of the Pentagon immediately after the attack in 2001 and the restored building just one year later. Captain Troy Lipp of Maryland's Montgomery County Task Force One, which conducted the search and rescue operations the day of the attack, said the rapid progress of the Phoenix Project was "incredible." He said that having the Pentagon repaired so rapidly after undergoing such destruction, "is really a testament to the resiliency of our country," and added, "It's a great symbol for us, having this building rebuilt. It means a lot to the whole country." Then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld lauded the efforts of the construction workers at a memorial service at the rebuilt Pentagon and said that the repaired Pentagon sends a message to the world.
What message is being sent by the wounded skyline here in New York? I seem to recall an offer by construction workers right after September 11, 2001 to work for free to rebuild the Twin Towers. They were ignored. Yet thousands of construction workers at the Pentagon worked 24/7 in three different shifts to keep the work going at full speed. At a press briefing March 7, 2002, the renovation project manager, Lee Evey, told reporters that to many of the workers, restoring the Pentagon as quickly as possible had come to symbolize the nation's resolve to win the war against global terrorism.
That resolve was nowhere in sight here in New York, where Governor Pataki, the Port Authority and World Trade Center lease holder Larry Silverstein battled over the reconstruction of the site. Factor in the partisan politics along with protests by the families of the victims and the will of the people was ignored as well.
Richard Hughes, founding member and spokesman for the Twin Towers Alliance, drafted an essay recently about how this inaction on rebuilding shows how far we have fallen as a nation and the failure of our leaders. He writes: "The failure to rebuild the Twin Towers is the most glaring symptom of what may prove to be a fatal disease — the increasing unwillingness of our leadership class to think like Americans first and partisans second. What has always saved us as a nation is that in times of great trial, heroes have emerged from both the left and the right to lead us out of danger. And in such times, we Americans, no matter how divided we were on the surface, put aside our differences to fight for what really mattered. And our leaders in both parties did the same. Because they too recognized that we cannot fight to make America better if there is no America to make better in the first place."
The Twin Towers Alliance collected on their Web site twintowersalliance.com the signatures of New Yorkers who want the Towers rebuilt, bigger and better. I salute the determined individuals who recognize the truth of what happened on September 11, 2001 and that the best course of action to defeat terrorism would have been to rebuild the towers. This would have denied the enemy what they regard as their biggest victory — destroying a major symbol of our democracy.
According to that Esquire article, Governor Pataki was called the Father of the Freedom Tower, but he's gone from office and I'm hoping that our new governor, Eliot Spitzer, will take a fresh look at a Twin Towers redux. Now that JPMorgan Chase has agreed to relocate to the World Trade Center, others will follow. Ignore the faux polls, rebuild the Towers and make them bigger and better.