2002-10-12 / Editorial/Opinion

A Memorial For Victims Of Flight 587

A Memorial For Victims Of Flight 587

There is a strong possibility that a fitting memorial for the victims of American Airlines Flight 587 may become a divisive issue in the Rockaway community. It is our understanding that many of those who lost loved ones on the plane have asked the city to take the land on Beach 131 Street and Newport Avenue and build a memorial on that land. The leaders of that community say that the Rockaway property is now "sacred land" that must be protected. We can understand their grief and their need for a place to remember, to reflect and to mourn. That piece of land, however, once was the homes of several families, some of whom lost loved ones in the crash as well. Most of them want to rebuild their homes, rebuild their lives, on that land. Who has the greater right? We believe that the Rockaway residents do. There are some who will make this into a racial issue – who will say that Rockaway does not welcome the memorial because most of those who were lost were Latino. We do not believe that to be the fact. The Rockaway people who lived on that land, lost their loved ones, lost their homes and all of their possessions, deserve to remain on the land. We believe that a suitable place for a memorial can be found elsewhere in the area, a place where mourners can come and pay their respects to those who they lost. Local officials and civic leaders should get together with the several organizations representing the victims of the flight as soon as possible. Untenable demands often lead to pain and controversy where none need reside. This seems to be one of those times. A fitting memorial in Rockaway is needed, but Rockaway people also need to rebuild their lives and their homes.

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