America was attacked on Sept. 11, 2001. No question about that. So, let’s build the Twin Towers “bigger and better than ever.” No question about that, either. That’s the way we roll here in the good ‘ole U.S. of A.
State officials said the name of the tallest, most symbolic of five planned office towers would “demonstrate the country’s triumph over terrorism.” It’s going to be called the “Freedom Tower.” No question there either. Certainly, an appropriate name and fitting tribute to our triumph over the evil and hate we witnessed that day.
Personally, it would be tough to find a more appropriate word to describe that new tower. So, Freedom Tower it is. Let’s build it.
The Freedom Tower cornerstone was engraved on a 20-ton block of black polished granite mined in the Adirondack Mountains and set with great fanfare on July 4, 2004. The inscription reads:
TO HONOR AND REMEMBER THOSE WHO LOST THEIR LIVES ON SEPTEMBER 11, 2001, AND AS A TRIBUTE TO THE ENDURING SPIRIT OF FREEDOM. – JULY FOURTH 2004,
The very first 25-ton steel column for the building was installed in 2006, and there for all to see on that column were the words “Freedom Tower.” So far, so good.
But hold on everybody. Please put down the magazine, grab your smart phone right now and Google “Freedom Tower.” It seems sometime after the cornerstone cement dried and that first column was erected, the Port Authority was suddenly more interested in marketing than never forgetting.
“As we market the building, we will ensure that the building is presented in the best possible way,” said Anthony Coscia, former chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to the Associated Press in 2009. Did they suddenly forget that our brothers and sisters in the PAPD lost 37 officers that day? Did the Port Authority forget about their 37 civilian employees, 10 contractors or more than 2,700 others who were killed on that horrific day?
For those of you who took the time to Google the new name, you can see the brilliant marketing team quietly (and shamefully) changed it to “One World Trade.” The 20-ton cornerstone now sits unceremoniously at a stone yard in Yaphank, Long Island. It was quietly removed from the site in 2006. Even Wikipedia directs you to the new name.
Nobody at the Port Authority had the guts to make the name change public. The fact that the name was even changed has shocked every single person I’ve told. The first public acknowledgement was a press release shortly after the first lease was signed. I can’t call them anything better than cowards, and I suspect we will never know who made the decision.
For me, that tall building in lower Manhattan that has replaced the Twin Towers – the tallest building in the U.S., the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere and the sixth tallest in the world – will only be known to me as the FREEDOM TOWER.
The marketing department has obviously forgotten. But I have not. And never will.