From the Worldwide Faith News archives

[ENS] Feature - New York families to rally against Ground Zero

From "Mika Larson" <>
Date Mon, 25 Aug 2003 17:43:03 -0400



Feature: New York families to rally against Ground Zero monument 

by Peter Kenny
Ecumenical News International 

[ENS] New York, 25 August (ENI)--Why you might ask, would Lee Ielpi, a
retired New York firefighter whose son was one of the 343 firefighters
who died on 11 September two years ago, be involved in a protest against
the building of a monument at Ground Zero? 

"We just want to preserve that one special area," Ielpi told ENI, whose
son Jonathan was killed on the day which still leaves visible mental and
physical scars on so many New Yorkers and other Americans. 

People who lost family members in the 2001 World Trade Center attack are
planning a gathering on 10 September to oppose plans for rebuilding the
area where the towers collapsed to the ground; land considered sacred
because of the remains of victims that lie in the ashes there. 

"Some people want to call that a protest. It's not - it's a statement,"
Ielpi said. "We do not want anything other than quiet on that day." 

Ielpi, of Great Neck, New York, is co-founder of the Coalition of 9/11
Families, whose members want to call attention to their campaign to
preserve the footprints of the Twin Towers, saying nothing should be
built on the bedrock itself except a memorial to the victims. 

Plans for the site preserve the approximate boundaries of the towers
only. A memorial will occupy that space about three stories above
bedrock. But the plans could allow infrastructure and other developments
to encroach on the footprints down to the bedrock. That distinction is
crucial to some families, who consider the bedrock a sacred cemetery for
the nearly 2800 people who died. 

Some families of victims have criticised the holding of the protest and
Ielpi said he understands their concern. But he believes many family
members will support the idea of a protest when they hear the bedrock
will be covered with infrastructure for a commuter train station and
other construction. 

"We've been left no recourse. I apologise, because we don't know what
else to do," said Ielpi, pointing out that the 10 September will be
probably the last day people can walk on the bedrock. 

"That area has 19 998 body parts that were recovered there," says Ielpi
whose coalition and campaign is backed by Lutheran Disaster Response of
New York (LDRNY) and also has the support of former New York mayor
Rudolph Guiliani. 

The site marks the place where most of the buildings compacted during
their collapse after two Boeings crashed into them in the attack by
suicide bombers. 

"We want that bedrock," said Ielpi. "That ground is sacred and hallowed,
made so by the blood of those souls." 

:: John J. Scibilia, executive director of LDRNY, along with his
organization, were among recipients of an award in June from the 9/11
Widows and Victims Family Association for their support in the aftermath
of 11 September 2001. Other recipients of the award included New York
Senator Hillary Clinton and former mayor Rudolph Guiliani. 

"LDRNY has made incredible things possible for the 9/11 Widows and
Victims Families Association, " said Jennifer Adams, managing director
of the association in presenting the award. "The group wouldn*t be here
if it wasn*t for you; it would*ve fallen by the wayside." [546 words] 

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