The eleven months that have passed since barbarians demolished the Twin Towers have not diminished the sense of amputation one feels when absorbing lower Manhattan’s skyline. Across West Street from Ground Zero, the World Financial Center’s buildings look slight, stocky and inadequate at barely half the height of the late pair of tall, 28-year-old twins.
This longing for the majestic structures increasingly has New Yorkers asking: Why not rebuild them, at least as breathtaking as they were? Until recently, one rarely discussed the return of the Twin Towers. That idea disturbs many survivors of the 2,823 people murdered there last September 11. Others fear that reconstructing the Towers might invite future attacks. So far, the public has debated several memorial concepts and six coolly received redevelopment proposals.
What more and more New Yorkers really want is our Towers back. Among 800 participants in an online dialogue hosted this summer by New York’s Civic Alliance, 20 percent want something as high as the WTC, while 40 percent want even taller buildings.
Consequently, a new, local group called Team Twin Towers — according to its mission statement — hopes to resurrect the WTC “in a responsible, thoughtful and caring manner and to ensure an appropriate memorial is incorporated honoring those we lost.”
The non-profit’s comprehensive website solicits donations in addition to signatures on a pro-restoration petition. It also offers several compelling arguments for reinstalling the Towers.
First, rebuilding is as American as Old Glory. After invading British troops torched much of Washington, D.C. — including the White House — in August 1814, Americans did not erect small buildings to appease the Brits. Instead, a renovated executive mansion emerged from the ashes, as did a larger and bolder capitol city.
The 1986 Challenger explosion could have grounded U.S. space flight. After all, seven Americans died in the tragedy. But 32 months later, the space shuttle roared back into the heavens where NASA’s astronauts continue to explore the cosmos.
After the 9/11 attacks, the Pentagon was not renamed the Rhombus, nor was its wounded fifth side retired to respect the 189 innocents killed there. Workers quickly repaired America’s military headquarters in a perfect demonstration of U.S. resilience.
Second, height alone does not lure anti-American terrorists. Indeed, blind Egyptian sheik Omar Abdel Rahman led a 1993 conspiracy to detonate the Lincoln Tunnel and Brooklyn’s bustling Atlantic Avenue subway station, both underground. If Americans shrink from re-erecting the Twin Towers, for safety’s sake, we also should abandon the Empire State Building, Wrigley Field, and the Grand Canyon.
Third, architecture critic Sydney LeBlanc called the Twin Towers “colossal dual passages to outer space.” They obviously stirred his imagination. Seeing them again also would inspire visitors and residents alike.
Fourth, rehabilitating the Towers would celebrate the industriousness and enterprise of al Qaeda’s prey. From busboys to bond traders, they died performing their duties. Recreating these pinnacles of productivity would let us remember these individuals for their noble contributions to American commerce.
There was something sickeningly second grade about the WTC’s demise. The fanatic Muslim attackers seemed to say: “We’re too pathetic to design our own Twin Towers. So, you can’t have yours, either.” Should buildings of only 60 or 70 stories grow at Ground Zero, we will fulfill their perverse wish.
My friend, Vance DeWitt, suggests that we reproduce the Twin Towers, one story higher and with a mosque on the top floor of each high-rise. This will show that America is confident and receptive enough to allow Islamic worship 111 stories above the sidewalks of New York. Such mosques also should shield the skyscrapers from Muslim militants who, presumably, would anger Allah if they damaged His houses of prayer.
The same cruel, backward Middle Easterners who cheered when the Twin Towers collapsed may gnash their teeth if they rose anew. Let them. Their toxic hatreds should not proscribe American dreams. Islamists among them even might plot to destroy the Towers again. But that simply should guide architects and engineers to craft them afresh with safety as well as glory in mind. Obviating future threats to a resurrected World Trade Center should energize America’s soldiers, spies and diplomats to do their sworn duty and win the war on terror .