Controversy Over 9/11 Memorial Brings Thoughts Of Community
The new Tribute Park planned for Rockaway, to memorialize those residents who died on September 11, 2001 in the attack on the World Trade Center, may face the same often-bitter dispute as the memorial at the site of the World Trade Center, for the thousands who died there.
There is a growing disagreement within the community concerning the means by which the victim’s names should be listed. Some suggest that the names of fallen rescue workers should be listed separately from civilian victims names, while others maintain that all names should be listed together.
While the memorial to be built in Manhattan is still undergoing negotiations, and plans have not yet been finalized, our Tribute Park on a triangle of land at Beach Channel Drive and Beach 116 Street has final plans for construction.
Liz Sulik, executive director of the Rockaway Chamber of Commerce, outlines the proposed method for listing the names, "The names of the 70 people lost will be in glass stars, there will not be any differentiation at all. In addition, people can buy bricks, and those will not differentiate either," explains Sulik.
Sulik added that there will be a complete list of fallen firefighters, in which the retired firefighters will be distinguishable from the active firefighters.
Notably, the heated dissent present in the discussions being held regarding the Manhattan memorial, are a far
cry from the disagreements among Rockaway residents.
Above all most of the Rockaway locals who spoke to The Wave were concerned more with a strong sense of community. "For our purposes for this park, we are not differentiating between what they did, because first and foremost they were our friends and family and Rockaway residents," responded Sulik when asked for her opinion.
Christine Russell, whose brother-in-law firefighter Stephen Russell died at the World Trade Center, expressed a similar view, "My opinion is that they should be listed all together. They were part of the community and should be named that way."
Retired firefighter Palmer Doyle, who served at the Trade Center on that day, also expressed concern for the community and the affected families. "I feel that it should be up to the families. Let them ask the families and whatever they say should be done," said Doyle.
While not all locals agree that the names should be listed together, there is an overwhelming sense of community from all respondents. Kevin Callaghan, a retired firefighter, and Rockaway resident, favors listing rescue workers as a group.
"I think there should be some acknowledgement of the rescuers, and mention of their respective departments. They went in together as a unit, and should be listed together as a group," said Callaghan.
Clifford Russell, another Rockaway local, sensitive to the unique role of rescue workers, shares Callaghan’s view. "Everyone should be listed together, as long as firefighters are designated, by rank. They should be listed on a common wall, but since firefighters went to the scene as opposed to being on the scene, they should be credited with the titles of their profession, according to rank," explained Russell.
The discussions and differences of opinion present among Rockaway locals, has a distinctly different connotation from the arguments presented concerning the Manhattan memorial.
No date has yet been set for the formal opening of the Rockaway Tribute Park.