By Marian Fontana
It is hard to believe that we are nearing the three-year anniversary of 9/11/01. As president of the September 11th Families Association, I have worked hard to unite the 9/11 community and promote positive change in the wake of tragedy. In January 2004, the WTC memorial design and site plan were revealed to the public. Michael Arad’s design, Reflecting Absence, is a tree-lined memorial plaza featuring recessed pools where the towers once stood encompassing the footprints. Saving these footprints down to bedrock was something the 9/11 families struggled for – and ultimately won through the exhaustive efforts of many people.
The September 11th Families’ Assoc. staff and the Coalition of 9/11 Families diligently labored to represent your voices in the memorial process, working with elected officials and the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation. Many family members also gave their time to a variety of tasks, from stuffing envelopes to attending rallies. I’d like to offer my deepest thanks to all those who helped bring our vision of a fitting memorial into fruition.
Through our unity, 97% of the North Tower footprint will be preserved, with 3% compromised at the NE corner by the PATH train station platform. The South Tower footprint will be 48% preserved down to bedrock, with 52% compromised on the east side due to PATH train tracks. Ultimately, your voices were instrumental in making this possible, shaping the memorial process. Although the final memorial will not be completed until 2009, the plans are outlined for the rebuilding process.
Our association’s new initiative, the Tribute visitors’ center, furthers our effort to promote positive change by uniting the 9/11 community. The visitors’ center will offer a variety of educational programs that remember our loved ones and tell the remarkable stories of our city. These stories of heroism, humanity and love demonstrate our resilience as a city, a nation and most of all, as human beings. Programs will focus on September 11th and the remarkable aftermath, when the world came together in an unprecedented display of unity and generosity. By telling these stories, we hope to give people a deeper understanding of the event while instilling a positive message of hope. The creation of this space demonstrates our resilience as Americans, committed to making the world a better place. We look forward to working together in creating this special place.