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Moving On With Memories Of 9/11 In Our Hearts
By Bill Droel, Campus Minister.
Source: View From The Hill, September 9, 2005

This weekend marks the fourth anniversary of the murderous attack on our country by the al-Qaeda terrorists from Saudi Arabia and elsewhere. On September 11 there will be a memorial service at 3 p.m. at St. Luke's Orthodox Church on 107th St., just west of Moraine Valley's main campus, beyond our nature study area and beyond our observatory. Moraine Valley's campus minister will speak at the service. All students and Moraine Valley staff are very welcome to join us.

St. Luke's is a fitting place to remember the victims and the heroes of that fateful day four years ago. St. Luke's has relics from the attack sites, including a beam from the fallen World Trade Center Towers. The New York Mayor's Office and the New York Port Authority gave the beam to St. Luke's because an Orthodox church in lower Manhattan was destroyed during the attack.

St. Luke's subsequently dedicated its new bell tower to the deceased of September 11, 2001. (St. Luke's, by the way, occupies the former Moraine Valley Community College Newman Center. In that way, there is an additional connection through St. Luke's between our college and the events of four years ago.)

I just returned from a tour of the World Trade Center Plaza. (I don't like the designation "Ground Zero." If anything, it should be "Ground of Heroes.") I was accompanied by the budget director for New York City, whose office has long been in the plaza.

Citizens have been looking at the lower Manhattan attack site since December 30, 2001 when the streets were reopened. Thousands of people a day walk around the 16-acre plaza and look into the chasm. The memory of September 11 will live in their stories and photos as well as in events like the one at St. Luke's this weekend.

In that sense, it almost doesn't matter how New York officials redevelop the plaza. As you may know, there is controversy and plenty of setbacks regarding the design and construction of the devastated area. The latest proposal from architect David Childs of Skidmore & Owings calls for a 77-story skyscraper with lots of glass. It will sit atop a 200-foot concrete and steel base, which will be unoccupied. Earlier designs of the so-called Freedom Tower were more attractive. But the police department is insisting on a high degree of structural safety. Many artistic notes in the designs are being replaced by plain corners, safe overhead fixtures, densely protected elevators, reinforced stairs and everything functional. The entire structure will sit at l east 40-feet further away from West St., the main route along the Hudson River.

The police and other inspectors are doing what they are supposed to do: to say that it might be a fortress rather than an architectural gem that replaces the destroyed World Trade Center Towers. Throw the usual New York politics into the mix and we might have only minimal construction on the site for many months.

There is a sense in which I accept the designation "Ground Zero." For no matter what eventually takes the place of the World Trade Center Towers, a fitting memorial to September 11 is a huge hole in the ground; that zero, a dirty, scarred hole in our soul.

Some Moraine Valley teachers and librarians have started an intriguing "One Book, One College" program here. The book selected for this semester is a fictional account about autism and broken families. It is a good choice. However, I propose that for the Spring 2006 semester we switch to non-fiction, specifically the best-selling non-fiction book of last year, The 9/11 Commission Report. It is not like what bureaucratic committees usually produce. With 567 pages, the Report is inexpensively priced. It is clearly written. It avoids political rhetoric. The Report, while respectful of the victims and rescuers, is unafraid of suggesting many political and security failures on the part of the United States. There is plenty in the Report to provoke discussion on our campus, including fair-minded paragraphs on religion.

Among other things, I would like to discuss how the United States got from the World Trade Center Plaza to an intractable war in Iraq. Meanwhile, al-Qaeda groups and others are causing terror in England, Kenya, Pakistan and elsewhere.

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