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Commentary: Seven years after 9/11, why no memorial?

  • Story Highlights
  • Terry McGovern's son was 7 weeks old when her mother was killed in 9/11 attacks
  • McGovern: Now he's 7 and there's still no memorial at Ground Zero
  • A memorial tells us the human spirit can transcend hatred and violence, she says
  • McGovern: I want to be able to visit a place of peace
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By Terry McGovern
Special to CNN
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Editor's Note: Terry McGovern is an attorney who lives in Manhattan.

Ann McGovern, left, died on September 11, 2001. Her daughter Terry asks, why isn't there a memorial?

NEW YORK (CNN) -- My son is 7 now. He was just about 7 weeks old when his grandmother, Ann McGovern, my mother, died in the World Trade Center attacks.

My mother was a force of nature -- funny, energetic and totally engaged in life. Sixty-eight years old but claiming to be much younger, she was a vice president at Aon.

Over the course of the past seven years, I have missed her commentary the most. I can only imagine what she would have had to say about the circumstances and the exploitation of her death.

After so many years, I long to take my son to the place his grandmother was in the last moments of her life.

Curious by nature, just like his grandmother, he has so many questions. "Where was she that day? Why does everybody talk about 9/11 all the time? What are they building there? Why is it taking so long?" I try hard to answer.

What I can't answer is why there is no memorial. Still. I will not take him to a gaping hole in the ground, a construction site. I speak to my "9/11 family" -- friends who lost their daughters and sons that day -- and they wonder if they will live to see a memorial for their children.

The most moving memorials achieve what great art can -- they help us transcend the sometimes smallness of humanity.

A poignant memorial reminds us that we are more than violence or destructiveness and that the human spirit can transcend war, terrorist attacks and unimaginable grief. A memorial allows us to remember our loved ones not only in their vulnerability but in their generosity and courage.

We have lived through the political use and misuse of 9/11 for seven years and we still don't have a place to visit on the site that commemorates our loved ones.

I really don't care about the leaseholders or the commercial use of the property. I don't want to look at Rudy Giuliani in front of a towerless skyline at the Republican convention. I don't care that the two presidential candidates will visit the construction site on this seventh anniversary.

I want to be able to visit a place of peace that allows me to forget the politics and posturing and reminds me of the beauty of the lives that were lived and lost.

How can it be that, seven years later, this great New York City has not offered us such a place?

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the writer.

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