Letter: In The Name Of Respect

Nassau County Eisenhower Park September 11, 2001 Memorial (Photo by Kimberly Dijkstra)

This past September 11 was the 10th anniversary of Nassau County’s much-appreciated September 11 Memorial which, ever since 2007, has been a fine and touching tribute to the 377 Long Island residents who lost their lives on September 11, 2001. As the wall itself proclaims, “This memorial is erected to honor the lives of those lost…It is dedicated to them.”

However, although their names are etched on the wall, the only two people whom visitors actually see on the wall are then-President George W. Bush and then-County Executive Tom Suozzi. I don’t understand why only their photos were put on the wall, especially when pictures of the 377 honorees would have helped visitors who never knew them in life to at least see them as real people—rather than merely as names—but I feel it wasn’t right.

Not only are these two photos inappropriate because of their larger-than-life size, with each being 14X20, but especially since in both photographs these men are both smiling—big, wide smiles. Their facial expressions are anything but somber or sad; they look as if the men were posing in celebration of some happy occasion. I personally find this grossly inappropriate and offensive, and an (unintended, I’m sure) insult to the memories of those very people for whom this memorial was created and “dedicated.”

But now that these tone-deaf photos have sullied this sacred space for a decade, it is long-overdue that they are removed.

Therefore, somewhat like President Reagan once famously said “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall,” I now respectfully say “Mr. Suozzi, tear down these pictures from this wall.” Please.

It should be easy for you, Mr. Suozzi, to accomplish solving this problem of propriety, for these four reasons:

1. You still represent parts of Nassau County in the U.S. House of Representatives and remain a man of great power and influence.

2. You are the vice chairman of the Congressional Problem Solvers Caucus.

3. The two photos can be easily removed, since they are on thin panels glued onto a 16-square-foot plaque attached to the wall.

4. When you recently ran for Congress, your motto was—and I quote—”Suozzi Gets It Done!”

—Richard Siegelman

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