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Arizona creates contraversial 911 memorial { December 16 2006 }

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Arizona's 9/11 memorial faces revision
By Howard Fischer, Capitol Media Services
December 16, 2006

Members of the commission that designed the state’s Sept. 11, 2001, memorial agreed Friday to consider changes in the controversial piece, but not to tear it down as some had suggested earlier this year.

The vote came after more than three hours of comments — many from people with direct connections to the events of Sept. 11 when terrorists hijacked planes and flew them into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field.

Some, like Ben Marks, defended the 54 statements and quotes carved into the large metal ring near the state Capitol. He said while some inscriptions are controversial, they represent “the multitude of emotion and opinions” and should not be removed.

But Mike McAvoy, whose brother was in one of the World Trade Center towers, said it would have been preferable to instead have the names of the nearly 3,000 people who died that day inscribed on the monument.

“They all need to be honored without a political agenda,” he said.

And Carol Reed called the memorial “an abomination.”

The commission plans to meet again early next year and consider what changes to make.

One alteration virtually certain refers to a July 1, 2002, event: “Erroneous U.S. air strike kills 46 Uruzgan civilians.” Billy Shields, who heads the commission, said evidence now suggests that statement itself may be erroneous.

Backing for the removal of that inscription came from Tucson resident Robin Stoddard, who said he was with a joint Air Force-Army team that went to the Afghanistan community in the wake of the strike.

Stoddard said there was no evidence that a wedding party had been bombed — as was originally claimed — or even that civilians were killed. In fact, he said villagers admitted they had fired at U.S. aircraft.

“If they’re shooting at us, we get to shoot at them,” he said.

There are other objections to the memorial.

Former state Sen. Tom Smith said the purpose of the memorial is to tell visitors what happened that day.

“Quite frankly, I don’t think it does that,” he said.

For example, one of the 54 inscriptions says “8:46 a.m. Flt. 11 strikes WTC north tower.” Another lists the time of the collapse.

“The parents are going to bring their children down there 20 years from now, and the young ... 9-year-old is going to say ... ‘Why did the pilot fly it in there?’” Smith told commissioners. “There’s no mention (anywhere in the memorial) that terrorists hijacked the airplane.”

McAvoy said he and others believe the memorial “is political, does not truly recount the events and sentiment in America on 9/11, nor does it honor those lives who were lost.”

He noted the memorial mentions “president addresses nation,” without noting that George W. Bush was the president. And he said the names of those killed should be listed — or at least the number of victims and firefighters who died.

Donna Killoughey Bird, a commission member whose husband was in the World Trade Center that day, bristled at making any changes at all beyond factual inaccuracies.

“This is not a war memorial,” she said. “It is not a place for slogan but words for depth, perspective and context.”

Inscriptions on 9/11 memorial:
• “Fear of foreigners”
• Feeling of invincibility lost
• Why
• “You don’t win battles of terrorism with more battles”
• 10 29 04 — Terrorist organization leader addresses American people
• “Must bomb back”
• 10 26 01 — US Patriot Act signed into law
• We stand in 100-degree heat to give blood
• Remember
• Patriotism peaks
• Middle East violence motivates attacks in US

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