Wednesday, January 9, 2002
At Ground Zero, the country has noted the changes -- is it fair to call it "progress"? -- in the arduous clean-up project at the World Trade Center site.
First the dust settled, then the surrounding streets were opened, then the most prominent chunks of wreckage were removed. Along the way, bodies were found and fires flared up.
Famous people -- at first, those of former Mayor Rudy Giuliani's choosing -- visited the site and communed with the rescue workers and family members of those killed or missing.
Gradually, Ground Zero saw more and more visitors as the city gradually eked toward "normality."
Work goes on where the twin towers stood. Now, four months later the area is more public than ever. Monday saw the opening of the first of four viewing platforms at Ground Zero. The city is issuing free, time-stamped tickets that allow 100 people at a time to spend 15 minutes looking at the site.
The time frame gives an uneasy feeling, given Andy Warhol's famous prediction that everyone will be famous for a quarter-hour. The tickets themselves suggest banality; those in charge must take pains to ensure that side-effects such as trinket sellers do not hover and taint the sanctity of the place.
Ultimately, however, such a sullying would be hard to do. Hood River County residents who have been to New York testify to the sadness and power they felt upon visiting Ground Zero.
Nothing can deny its everlasting role as national place of mourning.