By Mary Fetchet
Representatives Christopher Shays (R-CT) and Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) introduced the World Trade Center Historic Study Act, directing the National Park Service (NPS) to conduct a study of the feasibility and suitability of the national significance of the WTC site. The Coalition supports the Bill, which would require the NPS to report its findings to Congress within six months of enactment. The Bill conveys the importance of preserving the footprints, where the greatest number of victims lost their lives and where the majority of remains were found. The Bill directs the Secretary of the Interior to use the criteria contained in Section 8 of Public Law 91-383, the National Park System General Authorities Act, to conduct a study of the WTC site, evaluating the national significance and the suitability of establishing the site as a unit of the National Park System.
Unfortunately, Senator Clinton and Senator Schumer have responded that they will not support this Bill in the Senate because they believe there is not a consensus among the families on this issue. The Bill simply provides for a resource study to assess the historical significance of the site in our nation’s history. NPS studies are quite commonplace. Congress approves over 50 study bills a session. For instance, there may be a study to determine if Frank Sinatra’s house has historical significance and the feasibility of establishing it as part of the NPS. As the Coalition stated to both Senators, there is nothing to loose from the study. However, by not acting now, current development plans are building retail, commercial and transportation where our loved ones died.
Results of the Coalition survey, completed in 2002 where over 2,084 immediate family members responded by voting, clearly shows a consensus among our families for preservation.
84% of family members support the Coalition’s position for the entire bathtub area to be reserved for memorial purposes; 10% of family members support a memorial park over the entire 16 acres. Less than 6% support rebuilding the site with a small memorial.
As families who lost loved ones, you can demonstrate our consensus by visiting the Coalition web site and download a letter of support for this WTC Historic Study Act. Letters should be mailed/faxed to Senator Clinton and Senator Schumer to communicate that we are united. The disregard of the position of the families by our politicians must stop!
As Governor Pataki stated to over 700 family members in June 2002, “We will never build where the towers stood. It will always be a permanent and a lasting memorial to those we lost…Where the towers stood, where the towers stood is hallowed ground.” Our families expect Governor Pataki to stand by this promise. With oversight of the LMDC and Port Authority, the Governor could revise these plans to preserve the tower footprints.
The Historic Study Act is a vital first step in assessment to identify the tangible historical ruins. The existing box beam columns, other structural remains from the buildings and the true bedrock footprints should be accessible and preserved for ALL Americans and future generations who visit this historic site. Congresswoman Maloney said, “The footprints of the World Trade Center towers need to be protected and honored. This is the wish of the families who lost loved ones that day, and it ought to become a shared goal for the country as well. This bill is about finding the best way to achieve that goal, preserving the footprints and expressing the nation’s interest in a shared remembrance and lasting tribute to those lost.”
The Coalition is grateful and encouraged by the leadership of Congressman Shays and Congresswoman Maloney in introducing legislation to assess the historic significance of the World Trade Center Site. “As we move forward rebuilding the former World Trade Center site, it is crucial we remember the extraordinary courage and honor showed by so many, and the innocent victims who lost their lives that day,” said Shays. “This study is an important step in both moving our country forward and providing the families some measure of peace.”