Lots of folks were upset this week when the Port Authority announced the name change from Freedom Tower to One World Trade Center. The building is to be the tallest of five planned buildings at the site of the 2001 attacks. Symbolically the name "Freedom Tower" is supposed to represent our triumph over terrorism by rebuilding.
A number of the relatives of 9/11 victims are against the name change. Rosaleen Tallon said,"My gut reaction is calling a building the World Trade Center when it really isn't the World Trade Center is pretty creepy." She lost her brother Sean, a 26-year-old probationary firefighter with Ladder 10, on 9/11.
Debra Burlingame, whose brother was the pilot of the plane that crashed into the Pentagon, said, "If we can't say the word freedom out loud, God help us. I understand the decision from a marketing point of view. But it saddens me that it's no longer economically viable to declare who we are."
Last year Gov. Pataki told the NYTimes, “It is a little troubling to me that again there is a 1 World Trade Center, because a lot of great people and a lot of true heroes died in 1 World Trade Center. I think that name should be reserved, for those who did die on that horrible day.” Pataki coined the name Freedom Tower two years after 9/11.
Mayor Bloomburg's response? "If they name this 1 World Trade Center, people will still call it the Freedom Tower.” He's probably right about that. I still call CVS "Eckerds" and the Circle K is still the "7-11." Until recently I still called it the "Pak-a-Sak."
The Port Authority contends that One World Trade Center is the actual legal name and as they move into leasing the building, it might be nice to call it by that name. So far, ten floors have been built.
CNN reported Thursday "the signing of a lease that will create the China Center, a 190,810-square-foot business and cultural facility, to be on portions of the 64th floor and the entire 65th through 69th floors of One World Trade Center. Hailing it as a great day for the Port Authority and its partners in the China center, Port Authority Executive Director Chris Ward added, 'this is the first step in a long journey as downtown is finally rebuilt.'"
Port Authority Chairman Anthony Coscia refused to answer when asked if the name Freedom Tower would appear anywhere on the building.
It seems to me we are missing the point. We could take offense that the word "freedom" is removed, as some have. I don't think it's a political correctness issue. I actually prefer the name Freedom Tower but the point is that the towers are rising again and that's the best evidence we can show that America will not be defeated by terrorism. If changing the name helps the PA lease the space, then more power to 'em. What we want in that space is the phoenix risen from the ashes - we want fully leased, thriving buildings filled with life, tenants, and a future.