Friday, May 25, 2012

New Video: The "Temporary" Memorial

It stood in the center of the plaza between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center.

Miraculously, when the Towers fell on 9/11, it survived, battered, but unbowed. Just as did New York City itself.

When the city quickly needed a memorial to the thousands of victims, it was the obvious choice. It was well known, damaged yet still beautiful and entirely secular in its nature (unlike the famous cross-shaped steel structural members found in the rubble).

Six months after the worst terrorist attack in history against the USA, while the former World Trade Center was still being excavated for human remains, it was rededicated as a memorial in Battery Park several blocks to the south of its former home.

The city even added an eternal flame, all the while knowing it was only temporary.

The Sphere after the destruction.

Today, it's gone, removed so that the park's lawns can be renovated.

Where is it going?

In a statement released on May 12, PA Executive Director Pat Foye said, "Next week, the Port Authority will announce a new temporary home for the Koenig Sphere, the iconic bronze sculpture that miraculously survived the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center. We have worked tirelessly to find a new, accessible public space for this important symbol of hope amid devastation. We believe this sculpture should continue to reside in a location where New Yorkers and people from around the region, nation and the world can view this important reminder of survival and resilience." But despite this promise, as of 5/25 there has still been no announcement of The Sphere's new home.

One thing is certain: It will not be a part of the 9/11 Memorial, which has hosted almost 2.5 million visitors since opening 9/11/11.

"We fully, 100% support The Sphere being kept outside in a way the public can experience whenever they want to, but it's not going to be incorporated in the eight-acre memorial plaza," National 9/11 Memorial and Museum president Joe Daniels told Community Board 1 at a May 14 meeting.

Architect Michael Arad's concept for the 9/11 Memorial Park is somewhat antiseptic, and the PA feels that the battered Sphere would clash with his design. The PA's decision isn't sitting too well with area residents and the families of the fallen.

Michael Burke, who lost his firefighter son in the tragedy, started an online petition which has garnered thousands of signatures asking that The Sphere be returned to its original location. "Putting The Sphere anywhere else denies its meaning and... betrays the innocents who perished on 9/11... I would just ask to keep 9/11 all in one place, where it belongs.

Daniels commitment to keeping The Sphere "outside" makes it clear that the PA is also not considering including it in the collection of artifacts to be displayed in the museum.

So for the time being, it looks as though 45,000 pound, 25 feet tall bronze sculpture is going to go back into storage at Hanger 17 in JFK International Airport. The "eternal" flame has been extinguished.

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