Monday, July 26, 2010

LOST IN JERSEY; The 9/11 Monument You've Never Heard Of

It lies directly across from Manhattan, with Brooklyn in the distance, Staten Island to the right, and the Statue of Liberty is straight ahead. And the question is this; if a 100 foot tall monument to 3,000 slain people is built and there isn't anyone there to see it, is it still a monument?

There was a family emergency in the past week, and my cousin Rich came up from Georgia. After things began to fall in to place we started to talk about the usual stuff relatives do when we haven't seen each other in awhile.

Over a beer or two Rich asked if we had ever been to the "Teardrop Monument" in Bayonne. We had no idea what he was talking about. Then Rich explained to us that there was a monument to the victims of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks at the World Trade Center in Bayonne, about 20 miles north of here, facing the the spot where the Twin Towers once stood.

Sorry....never heard of it. Where did you hear this?

Rich explained that the monument was a gift from the people of Russia to the United States, and it was dedicated on the fifth anniversary of the attacks in 2006,

Sorry Rich....this ain't ringin' any bells. Are you sure this isn't some Urban Legend?

No, its the real deal, Rich answered....his wife checked it out on a site dedicated to separating fact from fiction. Yes, the so-called "Tear Drop 9/11 Monument" was real, and it was in Bayonne, New Jersey.

So, on Saturday July 24, 2010, in near 100 degree heat we set out on our expedition to find the rumored but seldom seen "Tear Drop 9/11 Monument".

We headed north on the Jersey Turnpike and got off at Bayonne, and we got lost in the harbor area for about an hour.... but we could see a large tower in the distance, but couldn't find the road we wanted (no, we had no address, so GPS was out). After asking three different people for the same directions three times we finally got some that made sense; he directed us to Harbor View Park, the former Military Ocean Terminal, or 51 Port Terminal Boulevard, off of Route 440.

And there it was....100 feet high, a magnificent sculpture, the work of Russian sculpture Zurab Tsereteli. Moved to tears after the attacks, Tsereteli wanted produce a monument to the victims of 9/11. He went to work almost immediately, and chose the site on the Bayonne waterfront that faced directly where the Twin Towers once stood. The monument would be of a tower being split in half, with a single four ton nickel tear drop suspended from the center. The Russian government got into the act, and President Vladimir Putin was present for the groundbreaking of this gift to the American people from Russia on September 16, 2005.

Tsereteli was at the dedication of the monument on September 11, 2006, the fifth anniversary of the attacks. Former President Bill Clinton was a keynote speaker, New Jersey Senators Frank Lautenberg and Robert Menendez, Governor Jon Corzine, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, and Mayor Joe Doria were among those present at the dedication, as were many Russian notables. LeAnn Rimes was on hand to sing AMAZING GRACE. The dedication was captured on video and posted at the website. But there was one large problem with the ceremony....most of the media wasn't there.

The media, for the most part, was concentrated on the ceremonies at Ground Zero where President George W. Bush was to be part of the agenda. The news cycle that day was dominated by the New York ceremonies, and by rebroadcasts and discussion of the events of September 11, 2001.

Consequently, the "Tear Drop 9/11 Monument" in New Jersey was praised, dedicated, sanctified....and then more or less forgotten about by just about everyone.

Below, some pictures we took at the site. The story continues below.

So....we have a one hundred foot tall monument (featuring a four ton tear drop) given to the United States by the people of Russia (with their president at the groundbreaking) to memorialize the senseless deaths of 3,000 people across the harbor; a former President of the United States and a couple of senators, and a cabinet member....AND LeAnn Rimes....dedicated the memorial on the fifth anniversary of 9/11; but nobody knows about it.

My cousin, a guy from Georgia, told me about it. We live in the most populous area of the United States and the media center of the world.....and I'll guarantee that if you asked one hundred people on the street within a 50 mile radius of Bayonne "Where can I find The Tear Drop 9/11 Memorial" at least 90 would have no idea of what you were talking about.....and nine of the remaining would make something up to keep from looking too stupid.

The question did the existence of this monument erroneously fall into the realm of "Urban Legend"? A monument that almost no one knows about....on the day we visited, we were the only ones there; it was a Saturday afternoon in July.

I think there are several reasons for this monument being under publicized. Part of it was timing. On on September 11, 2006 most of the nation (and the world) focused on the ceremonies taking place at Ground Zero. President George W. Bush was at that event, as well as the one at Shanksville, PA for a wreath laying where United Flight 93 went down. At the Pentagon Vice President Cheney and Defense Secretary Rumsfeld were the guests of honor in that ceremony. And most of the day the news media concentrated on discussion of the events in 2001, plus replays, and doing the things talking heads do on the 24/7 news stations; giving opinions.

From a GOOGLE search I did on the fifth anniversary of 9/11, I can find no mention of a ceremony in Bayonne, NJ. CNN, for example, offered no coverage at all. And it appears the dedication of the "Tear Drop Memorial" received no mention by anyone else in the electronic media, not even locally.

A GOOGLE search for "Bayonne NJ 911 Memorial" turns up less. It's mainly reports from bloggers and includes amateur photos and home videos, and a brief report from The New York Times that the memorial might include 40 names too many of the victims of the attacks because an outdated list was used.

And one conservative blogger suggests (and some of his readers agree) that the "main stream media" deliberately chose not to cover the story. The only problem with that theory is that few (if any) conservative and Far Right talkers and bloggers have said anything about this memorial either; no Limbaugh, Hannity, Beck, or O' FOX NEWS. Nada.

A search for videos of the "Tear Drop Memorial" turns up less than two full pages on GOOGLE. "The Tear Drop Monument's" only reference by a local TV station is included in a list of the many others found in New Jersey.

Now....let me introduceChester Burger to our story. Mr. Burger was the very first television reporter with CBS back in 1946, and has had a long and distinguished career in media and in public relations. In his series Unexpected New York Mr. Burger tells the story of the monument, and why it is such a secret to even those within its shadow.

At that's his bottomline....New York was still haggling about what kind of memorial to put up and Ground Zero; Jersey City found the monument to be a political football; and Bayonne couldn't raise the cash. The Russians, led by Vladimir Putin, an ex-KGB agent, got it funded and built as a gift to the United States. And, if you can accept Mr. Burger's story, that's the reason the monument has been under the avoid public embarrassment at several different levels as to who, what, and how it was built.

Sounds good to me. Maybe the circumstances became such an embarrassment that State of New Jersey decided to not even change the signs as to who the current governor is at the park; it reads "Jon Corzine" instead of "Chris Christie". I know New Jersey is in an austerity program because of it's fiscal mess, but at least change the sign..and fix the darn access roads, for goodness sake.

My closing thoughts....the monument is pretty hard to find, but the most direct way is to get on Highway 440 in Bayonne, and watch the signs for Harbor View Park.

Better yet.....make sure your GPS is fully functional.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

How about moving it to Ground Zero to the site wanted by the mosque??

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