World Trade Center

‘Our Memorials to … Nothing’ and no one

Six years ago today we laid Joe Leavey to rest on what would have been his 46th birthday. He was a loving husband and father, a loyal son, and the younger brother of three sisters who admired the fine man they had watched him grow to be. I first met Joe in 1977 soon after he graduated with a degree in engineering from Manhattan College; Patty, my wife of 29 years, is the youngest of those three sisters.

FDNY Lieutenant Joseph G. Leavey is also a 9/11 hero who led four Ladder 15 firefighters to the 78th floor of the World Trade Center’s South Tower, fought fire, struggled to reach those trapped above, and died so that others might live.

While my family will long remember, the national memorial that is to bear his name will depict nothing of his sacrifice. It will be surrounded by trees and running water will flow beneath where 3,000 names are etched into metal. Yet not one ounce of the millions of tons of the World Trade Center’s steel will be used to create the memorial and there are no plans to display the artifacts close by.

Nothing depicting the heroism or carnage of 9/11 will be above ground at Ground Zero — and no American flag will fly over where American heroes fell. Not far away, they will bury a museum and a turning point in history.

It is with that knowledge that I must agree with Duncan Maxwell Anderson’s assessment of our memorials.

Heroes, victims, and 9/11 equally forgotten at Mayor Bloomberg’s WTC memorial

On Spetember 23, 2007, NYC Mayor Bloomberg visited Shankville's Flight 93 temporary memorial

On September 23, 2007, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg visited the temporary United Airlines Flight 93 memorial:

“It really was very moving,” he said during his fund-raising appearance in Pittsburgh, 80 miles away. “I thought to myself, ‘You know, there’s no difference between New York City, a big city of 8 million people, and Shanksville, Pa., a town of a few thousand.’ In the end, it’s all the same thing: We lose people, sadly, to protect those things that we love, and we’ve got to make sure this does not happen again.”

Mayor Bloomberg standing at Shanksville, PA, gazing solemnly at patches of rescue companies and stating “we’ve got to make sure this does not happen again,” is, excuse the expression, rich.

Here is the guy who, as chairman of the World Trade Center Memorial Foundation, for the sake of “equality” will not allow the acronym “FDNY” nor the word “firefighter” to be used on the 9/11 memorial. In addition, all the victims will be identified with as little reference to 9/11 as they can get away with. In fact, without protest by the families, none of the passengers of Flight 93 would have been identified as such or listed together, as they died. Furthermore, as per the 13-member memorial jury, the $500 million, federally funded memorial cannot include any evidence of the attacks “in order to preserve the integrity of the memorial” from which visitors are not to gain any political or moral lesson.


Author’s note: On 9/11, my brother, FDNY Capt. William F. Burke, Jr., of Engine Company 21 gave his life. I served on the family advisory committee for the memorial to the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation and the advisory committee to the World Trade Center’s Museum and Memorial Center.