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9/11 stairs should stay

Justin Tardiff | Thursday, March 13, 2008

Recently, a staircase from the World Trade Center in New York was moved 200 feet to make way for construction of the new Freedom Tower on the site of the former twin towers.

Stairs aren’t usually such a big cause for concern, but this case is different. That staircase was the only above-ground remnant of the World Trade Center left standing after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. It was used by many of the survivors of the attacks to escape the buildings and represents in the most literal sense the tragedy New York and the United States felt that day.

The stairs were whittled away and removed from their concrete base in order to make moving them possible. They ruined what should have been a national landmark, just like any other site. The USS Arizona still rests in the waters in Pearl Harbor to remind the world of the tragedy of that attack.

What makes the stairs different is their location. Situated in downtown Manhattan, this staircase was occupying prime real estate that, according to the Powers That Be, needed to be filled as soon as possible. So by creating a memorial and building a symbolic “Freedom Tower,” the event could be remembered better.

Think about that.

The 9/11 memorial group is getting rid of the actual site and rebuilding an artificial Ground Zero nearby. They are destroying history to make room for progress.

What is even more outrageous is the attempts to rationalize this decision. Joe Daniels, president of the memorial foundation, told the Associated Press that, even though the stairs are being moved, they are maintaining “the essence of the stairs.”

What a load of crap.

Those stairs are only different from any other stairs in the entire world for one simple reason: their location. They stayed standing. They helped people escape. The only reason those stairs mattered is because people could look at them and think: “that is where it happened.”

I would bet that every student at Notre Dame could tell you exactly where they were and what they were doing when they found out about the attacks. It is our generation’s Kennedy assassination. Socially and politically, it has been the most important event in the world during the first few years of the 21st century. And some suits in New York are ruining that memory just to make a buck.

By moving these stairs, they are doing a lot more than clearing room for a new skyscraper. They are inherently tarnishing the memory and sacrifices of those who died in the attacks.