|Dear Families and Friends,
Once again, we were in Washington, DC this week to attend two very important hearings of the 9/11 Public Discourse Project (PDP). Please see our summary of Monday’s sobering panel, which focused on the topic of Terrorism and Weapons of Mass Destruction, in the PDP update below. We will provide a summary of Tuesday’s panel on Homeland Security Challenges in our July 8 issue.
Monday evening a group of VOICES 9/11 family members visited the Russian Embassy in Washington. The event was coordinated by Senator Joseph Lieberman's office as part of the VOICES’ Building Bridges Project initiative to send over 350 teddy bears to families of the victims of the attack on Beslan School #1 in Beslan, Russia. The bears were graciously accepted by the Russian Ambassador to the United States, Yuri V. Ushakov, and will be distributed to the families in time for the first anniversary of the attack on September 1.
Tuesday I participated in a Congressional Wireless Caucus panel discussion on radio spectrum access hosted by Representatives Chip Pickering (R-MS) and Albert Wynn (D-MD). Representative Jane Harmon (D-CA), 9/11 Commissioners Slade Gorton and Tim Roemer participated in the discussion. The panel discussion raised awareness that Congress has failed to address the 9/11 Commission's recommendation to increase radio spectrum availability. Consequently the ability of first responders to coordinate rescue efforts is as constrained today as it was on 9/11. Congressmen Pickering and Wynn made a commitment to advocate for these necessary reforms in Congress.
Wednesday VOICES joined representatives from 14 of the 9/11 family groups at a press conference held at the Washington Press Club to call for the removal of the International Freedom Center from the World Trade Center memorial site. We at VOICES will continue to advocate, along with the other 9/11 organizations, for an appropriate memorial to honor the lives of our loved ones and tell the story of 9/11.
Finally, I am sure all of you are looking forward, as we are at VOICES, to spending time with your family and friends over the July 4th holiday weekend. July 4th is a day to celebrate our proud American heritage and to honor the many men and women who have made our nation great. But as always, holidays can be a time of sadness for our families as we reflect on past holidays shared with our loved ones. Cherish those memories. We will be thinking of all of you and wish you and your families a safe 4th of July weekend.
Mary Fetchet and the VOICES Staff
The 9/11 Public Discourse Project hosted two hearings this week in Washington to discuss the many security threats that still face our country nearly 4 years after the attacks of September 11. The first, on Monday, focused on the possibility that terrorists could attack the homeland with WMD's, including nuclear weapons (transcript). The panel began with a frank assessment of our vulnerabilities by former Senator Sam Nunn, a longtime leader of Congressional efforts to counter nuclear proliferation who advocates stronger action to keep loose nuclear material out of the hands of terrorists. Nunn expressed dissatisfaction with the scope and the pace of efforts by the United States and Russia to ensure that nuclear material is secured. This material includes operational nuclear weapons, parts to make a bomb, and spent radioactive fuel that could be used for a deadly ‘dirty’ bomb, in which conventional explosives are used to spread radioactivity across a wide area. He said turf battles and complacency in Washington and Moscow have dangerously hamstrung counter proliferation given Al-Qaeda’s professed goal to obtain a nuclear device and use it on the United States or one of our allies...(more)
By Robin F. Goodman, Ph.D.
VOICES of Sept. 11 Director of Family Programs
Another holiday is upon us. The 4th of July is meant to celebrate our independence as a nation. But in the years since September 11th, it has taken on new meaning for many Americans. Especially for families affected by September 11th, the holiday is likely to cause complicated thoughts and feelings.
Hardly a day goes by – or sometimes hardly an hour goes by – without seeing at least one reference to 9/11. The event has infiltrated what used to be routine events such as an airplane ride to visit relatives as well as serious world news such as the current situation in Iraq. And on the 4th of July, 9/11 is likely to be front and center. There will be flags, and fireworks, and talk of freedom. Families for whom September 11th has special meaning may find themselves yet again feeling different than those around them at the sights and sounds of such reminders. But even among the September 11th families, survivors, rescue workers and others, there is great variety. Some may have turned their attention elsewhere – to new projects, children or work – some are still troubled by events of the day, and some may have put their energy into causes related to September 11th. Keep in mind that independence means you should feel free to remember people and participate in events in your own personal way.
The following are some suggestions for dealing with the holiday.
- Plan ahead. Think about what made for a successful holiday in the past. Consider doing something similar or making changes according to where people are now.
- Consider different preferences. Children, adults, family, and friends often have different ideas (and advice) about what they think is best. Try to accommodate some of what each wants while realizing it’s impossible to please everyone.
- Have realistic expectations. No matter what your situation, the reality of a celebration does not usually match what is portrayed in glossy magazines or storefronts.
- Be flexible. There is no right or wrong way to mark the holiday. Whether you keep to a routine or decide to try something new this year, you and your family are the best judge of the right fit. And if things don’t work out as planned, recognize that life will continue to evolve, file away the experience to help plan for the next event.
- Be sensitive to the fact that for some adults and children loud noises or crowds can be overwhelming rather than fun. Smaller gatherings may feel more manageable.
- Some children and adults may want and enjoy a carefree day engaged in lots of festivities. Supporting and encouraging kids to have fun can be an especially important life affirming message.
- You may want to take a moment to have a discussion with close friends, children, or as a family about what freedom means to each individual.
and Sherry Kronenfeld
In the aftermath of 9/11, Mindy Kombert and Sherry Kronenfeld took time off from their jobs to focus on the creation of The Flag of
Remembrance, an enormous 20 by 27 foot American flag featuring the
photographs, names, and ages of every victim of 9/11. Their hope was to
create a permanent tribute to the photographs and posters of missing loved ones scattered throughout New York City in the days and weeks
after 9/11. The Flag was unveiled last year in Chappaqua, NY and was
also on display at VOICES Spring Information Forum this past April. Please click here for
more information on the Flag of Remembrance.
The "Take Back the Memorial" campaign to ensure a respectful and appropriate memorial at Ground Zero traveled to Washington this week.
Representatives from 14 of the 9/11 family groups continued our strong stand
planned International Freedom Center (IFC) with a press
conference at the Washington Press Club on Wednesday. We believe the
space set aside for the World Trade Center Memorial should honor the lives of
those who perished and tell the story of 9/11. Any other program is
inappropriate and would be a distraction from the true message. VOICES has posted remarks from some of the press conference on our website.
Following the press conference the family members visited the World War II and Vietnam memorials. They plan to visit other 9/11 memorials across the country to reach out to the American public for support. The first visit will be to the 9/11 memorial dedicated last year in Anthony, Kansas. Their beautiful memorial commemorates our national loss with steel from the World Trade Center, limestone from the Pentagon, and soil from Shanksville, PA. It’s brick walls are engraved with the names of the heroes of 9/11 and expressions of solidarity from families across the nation. At night, two shafts of light representing the Twin Towers project dramatically into the sky. Anthony got their memorial right, and we believe it is a fine model for Ground Zero. For more information on the Anthony Memorial, including how to sponsor a brick, please visit their website.
Politicians in Albany and Washington are starting to take notice of the families’ concerns, and some have begun to actively support the removal of politics and controversy from the memorial site. Yesterday, three Republican New York Congressmen, Vito J. Fossella, John E. Sweeney, and Peter T. King wrote a letter to LMDC President Stefan Pryor stating, “What troubles us is the suggestion that Ground Zero is an appropriate place to host exhibitions outside the scope of a September 11 th Memorial.” Click here to read the full text of their letter. We applaud their attention to the issue and also the encouraging words of Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) that, “ I have always said that the memorial should be a priority and that it is imperative that the concerns of the families be addressed.” The media has been actively following the Take Back the Memorial effort, and we encourage you to read some of the coverage of Wednesday’s press conference and
supportive editorials that followed. Nearly 26,500 people have signed
Take Back the Memorial’s petition against the IFC. If you haven’t yet, we ask you to visit www.takebackthememorial.org and register your
support for an appropriate and respectful memorial at the heart of a
revitalized Ground Zero.
Mark D. Hindy Golf Classic
When: Monday, July 18, 2005 (Registration begins at 12:00)
Where: La Tourette Golf Course, Staten Island, NY
Donation Required: $175 per player
This day of golf, food and fun will benefit the Mark Hindy Charitable Foundation. Please visit the website for more information.
Please click here to send us information on your event, memorial, or foundation. The information will be posted on our website and distributed in the newsletters.
June 30, 2005
A Sept. 11 family group urged the White House and Congress Wednesday to squelch plans by New York 's governor and mayor for a ground zero museum that, the families say, will inject political arguments into what should be a solemn memorial... More
June 29, 2005
With one eye on terrorism and another on what has already been lost to terrorists, New York officials will unveil a redesigned Freedom Tower today whose height and proportion... More
June 28, 2005
The FBI is rolling out a program that allows federal law enforcement agencies and state and local police forces to share information throughout local regions of the country... More
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Voices of September 11th (“VOICES”) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization promoting public policy reform for prevention, preparedness and response related to terrorism. VOICES supports and advocates for all those impacted by September 11, 2001 and other terrorist attacks.