Tentative plans for rebuilding at the site of the World Trade Center towers have now been released by the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. None of the proposals inspire any sense of awe or the feeling that what is being planned is just right for that hallowed ground. The property on which the towers stood is owned by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. A real estate tycoon by the name of Larry Silverstein held the lease on the towers.
Shortly after the devastating destruction of the twin towers, with its horrendous loss of life, I advocated that we must build in that very spot the world’s tallest tower with a memorial cathedral at the top twenty or thirty stories. To my mind, nothing less than the tallest tower in the world could provide the kind of dramatic and spiritual response needed to honor the people who were killed and repudiate the terrorists and their murderous holy war. Their co-conspirators are still determined to advance those malevolent values throughout the world.
A new tower built with all the new technology would inspire awe and become a tremendous asset to New York City, the world’s capital of free enterprise. A cathedral at the top, lit up at night and seen for miles around, would add that needed spiritual dimension to a secular project. Since many survivors of the victims of that attack, as well as many other Americans, consider that site to be hallowed ground, it requires a powerful spiritual statement that all the world will instantly and unambiguously recognize as American resiliency in the face of brutal evil.
The Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building and other great commercial towers in New York have long been looked at as cathedrals of capitalism, representing the spiritual values of economic freedom and capitalistic enterprise. But the destruction of the World Trade Center towers by terrorists who hate American freedom and enterprise requires a response that inspires as much awe and reverence as do the great cathedrals of Europe.
Building the tallest tower in the world at ground zero would re-establish New York’s and America’s preeminence as the driving forces for freedom and democracy in the world. The first 60 stories of the tower could be used for commercial purposes, the next 20 stories for government bureaus, and the final top 20 or 30 stories for the Memorial Cathedral that will earn its way by charging visitors an appropriate fee. Such a tower would attract visitors from all over the world and become one of the great tourist attractions on the continent.
The Memorial Cathedral would display the photos and biographies of all of the victims, plus videos and books to sell. It would also show photographs of the offices and great restaurants that were destroyed, along with many art treasures. The exhibits could be modeled on the Holocaust Museum in Washington. We should not forget that the attack on the Twin Towers was the most horrific and spectacular terrorist attack in history. It was an attack that changed the world we live in. Above all, it was an attack on the American idea and of all the values we hold sacred.
If we fail to build the world’s tallest tower to replace the towers destroyed by our enemies, we will be telling them that we have been humbled and that we are afraid to soar higher than before. We will be telling them that we are no longer optimistic about our future and have accepted their verdict that we are a society in decline.
It is true that we are presently going through a difficult period in our history, but one hardly as difficult as the Civil War or Great Depression. America is still the most free and productive society in history and still attracting millions of immigrants. By building the world’s tallest tower in the very spot where we were challenged and devastated by the terrorists, we will be reasserting our preeminence as a creative, humane civilization and stating our undiminished optimism in the American future.