2003-09-26 / Editorial/Opinion

587 Memorial Is A Question of Two Competing Rights

587 Memorial Is A Question of Two Competing Rights

The controversial press conference that was held recently by the families of those who died on the aircraft when American Airlines Flight 587 crashed onto Belle Harbor streets has raised once again the question of a permanent memorial at the crash site – Beach 131 Street and Newport Avenue. There is no doubt in anybody’s mind in Rockaway that the temporary memorial wall at that corner should remain until after the coming November 12 anniversary of the crash. To do anything else but to keep it in place would be a slap in the face to the families of the 260 people who died on the plane, as well as to the five local residents who died in their homes. A permanent memorial, however, is another story. Many of those who live nearby the crash site say that they do not want to live in a cemetery, that they want a memorial to the crash, the second worst in American history, to be placed elsewhere. Others say they would accept a small memorial plaque in the street and a larger memorial nearby the bay. Many of the family members, however, demand a large memorial at the crash site. "This is hallowed ground, like Ground Zero," many of them say. "To build a home there would be like building a home on a cemetery." Others in the community of families, however, would accept a small memorial at the site and a larger one nearby. This is not a question of right and wrong, but of competing rights. The families have a right to have a place to grieve. The neighborhood residents have a right to peace of mind without constant reminders of the tragedy that took place there. There is room for compromise, and Congressman Anthony Weiner says that he is working with the families, looking for that compromise while representing the Rockaway community. We wish him luck. It is an important and potentially divisive issues that now needs to be settled prior to the third anniversary on November 12, 2004.

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