By Thomas M. Cunningham
US Naval Academy Fire Department
On September 11, 2001 we experienced an attack on the very fiber of our society when those planes struck the World Trade Center Towers killing many including 343 of our fellow firefighters. After this attack three members of the FDNY took an American flag from a nearby boat and hung it in honor of those who were killed by the religious zealots under the direction of Osama Bin Laden.
In my personal opinion a statue based upon an actual event should portray the event as it actually happened with the image of the characters left intact. If not, do as they did at the Vietnam memorial with fictional figures that represented all races that fought in that conflict. This would be the equivalent of putting Rosie the Riveter as one of the figures raising the flag at Iwo Jima, Rosie had just as much to do with the victory over Japan as did the marine who raised the flag.
I feel that the New York City politicians, the owner of ForestCityRatner, the administration of the FDNY, the artist, and the foundry just do not get it. It is not about race, it’s about being a firefighter, first and foremost. No matter what color, creed or sex, it’s all about fighting fires and saving lives. It’s about the firefighters who died on that day of horror trying to combat the fire and rescuing people inside the towers. It’s about the right of those three firefighters whose images are portrayed in the picture. Its about the right of the photographer and
The Record who owns the picture to have control over the images that are depicted, and how this image is to be portrayed in history. This picture has appeared in print as well as other types of media worldwide. Would it made any difference if it were three black firefighters who raised that flag? No.
Would it made any difference if three females would have raised that flag? No. Then why the difference now? Oh that’s right, we must be sensitive to everyone’s feelings nowadays. The truth is that some will like the end result, and some will not. You cannot have it both ways.
All politicians and liberals, listen up! When we are fighting fire and are in full protective gear (including SCBA mask), most times we don’t know who’s next to us. Most of the time we cannot tell whether they are black, white, Hispanic, male, female, just as long as they are there to assist in fighting fire and saving lives, that’s all that matters. The family who wakes up at 7 am in the morning to find grandma not breathing and dials 911, does it really matter what color the firefighters are who show up to do CPR on the deceased?
When the box is struck for a reported structure fire and we race to the scene, does it really matter what race the family is whose house is burning down or what color the business owner is? The way I look at the fire service is your firefighter first no matter what color you are.
A couple of years ago the “Enola Gay” was finishing being restored by the Smithsonian and ready for display when a controversy started. The Enola Gay was the B-29 “Super fortress” that was flown by Col. Paul Tibbets to Hiroshima and dropped the first ever Atomic bomb. The question arose about how the plane as an exhibit be displayed? Should the plane be a displayed to make the veterans “feel good,” or should the display make us realize the consequences of war?
In some ways the revisionist attitude that was present with trying to rewrite the history of the Enola Gay and her mission is present with the construction of this statue. I have taken issues brought up with the Enola Gay controversy and have re-written them according to the statue controversy.
You know, sometimes being politically correct is not the answer to the problem and the re-writing of history never is. If these people want to memorialize the moment then make it factual or use a fictional based design to represent the different races involved in this tragedy.
To write your disapproval to this statue, contact ForestCityRatner by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and let them know how you feel.
To learn more about the controversy surrounding the “Enola Gay” and the final decision on how the lane should be displayed, go to: Enola Gay.
Note: The following comments are those of Thomas Cunningham and not the views of withthecommand.com.