Why did I enter the WTC Memorial competition? After all I am a writer not an architect. What chance does my design have
against 5200 other submissions? But that is not the point. I didn't pursue this process to "win." I didn't pursue it for ego
reasons. I pursued it for the survivors, friends and families of those who died. My central thought was to create a memorial
that they and the deceased would want to see existing on that hallowed ground. I read and listened to all I could about what
THEY, the real stakeholders in this competition, wanted as a memorial.
I felt that out of the thousands of entrants, there surely were others who felt as I did. Joining my energies with a
such a consciousness, working to achieve the same ends, would place a positive force out into the universe. The old "butterfly
flapping its wings starts a hurricane..." concept. We might all appear separated by circumstance, location, culture, skills,
etc. but at the center we are joined by our common humanity and our souls. I pray, not that my design 'wins' but that those
who are hurting, grieving, angry, lost, will be given a space where in which they can ultimately find some form of solace.
Jeff Jarvis shares a similar sentiment. I came across this transcript of his sermon at Pilgrim Congregational Church
- June 2003. He relates, "I decided to submit one myself - not because I think for a moment that mine will be selected but
simply because I felt I had to, partly out of selfish introspection as a step in a process of healing, and partly as a mitzvah,
a deed that simply should be done."
"A filmmaker in New York named Greg Allen at first pooh-poohed the idea of this competition on his weblog but then he,
too, decided that he had to make a proposal. And, in turn, he brought together a half-dozen more people and we sat in a New
York restaurant one night comparing questions and concerns. And right there, I found fulfillment for the effort that went
into this, for I found six people who put care and concern and love into this project, six people who worked hard at remembering."
"Oh, I'm far from alone. More than 13,000 people from 50 states and 90 nations registered to submit proposed memorials...
Take those six good souls I met that night and multiply their good efforts now by thousands. This, too, came because of September
11th. This, too, is a change for the good."
An open letter to the WTC Grieving
Thus I have written this hypothetical letter:
From all the WTC Memorial entrants who designed their memorials based upon your pleas,
We listened. We took the time to hear the words of the friends and families of those who died on that tragic day. We
sifted, incorporated, and then merged our ideas with theirs. We hope that our collective consciousness, focusing upon their
wishes, will help ease your grief.
Perhaps when those thousands of images we have created flash before the judges, a positive energy will erupt. You, oh
lost and angry and hurting, need such a force to envelope your souls. Hopefully from within our creative energies such a force
has sprung. That it will speak to you and caress you. That it will bring you some comfort on barren days. And perhaps, it
will be strong enough to give you a space, where in some soon to be future, you can gather and remember. In that remembering
realize that though your loved ones are gone they will never be forgotten.
No word yet on which designs have been chosen as the 8 finalists. So I wait. Win or lose, I just hope that the judges
get it right. That they choose the one with the best Karma. After all, when the last survivor dies, the REAL memory dies.
So let us build a space where images and words will continue to not just tell a story, but evoke the essence of the tragedy
that unfolded that day.
Leona M Seufert