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The renaissance of Ground Zero

The surviving Double Check statue.The massive construction site that is Ground Zero has been shrouded from the public view for some time as workers rebuild the World Trade Center.

But a fascinating program series produced by Stephen Spielberg called Rising: Rebuilding Ground Zero has given viewers an inside look at the work being done to reclaim and renew the site of the greatest terrorist disaster the United States has ever known.

Two perfect square recessions, each an acre in size and descending 30 feet below the surface of the earth mark the location where the Twin Towers once stood.

Referred to as “the footprints,” each granite-lined cavity has begun to murmur with the constant rush of flowing water, making them the largest man-made waterfalls in the world.

The waterfalls are the centerpiece of what will be Memorial Plaza. When the plaza officially opens on September 12, visitors will see bronze panels that surround the falls containing the names of employees, firemen, policemen and visitors who were present when the Twin Towers came down.

They will see names of passengers and crew of American Airlines flight 277 which crashed into the Pentagon, the names of passengers and crew on United Airlines Flight 93 that crashed near Shanksville, Pennsylvania and the six people who lost their lives when the World Trade Center was bombed in 1993.

Hundreds of swamp white oaks will surround the waterfalls creating a tranquil green space for visitors and the employees who will eventually again inhabit Freedom Tower and other buildings still under construction.

On a recent evening I stood outside of Ground Zero where even at night, scores of people work amid the whir and clank and grind of massive machinery, determined to bring the World Trade Center back from the grave.


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Things we haven’t learned since 9/11

Anybody see the interview Sunday evening with former President Bush (2) on National Geographic Channel? The subject was 9/11 and he spent an hour reflecting on what that day was like for him.

It didn’t break a lot of new ground, but the ex-prez has some thoughtful recollections on what must be the most memorable day of his life. He did a good job — and not a Teleprompter in sight.

We’ll be bombarded the next week with “anniversary” telecasts, panels and, yes, newspaper columns on the decade mark of that fateful day. I’ve never met anyone over the age of 15 at the time who doesn’t remember exactly what they were doing when they heard the news. Don’t believe I ever will.

The Bush interview prompted (not teleprompted) me to ruminate on what we have learned since September 11, 2001. Many of us believed in the days following the attack that something good would come out of all that death and destruction. The nation — indeed all the nations of the world that value freedom over barbarism — would have a unity of purpose that in the end will magnify the best.

We didn’t do that so much, did we?

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Too little known about the ‘pluses’ of virtual classes

I recently received a letter in the mail regarding a new program being offered to incoming fourth and fifth grade students who received either a 4 or a 5 on their FCATs in third grade. My first reaction was how smart my child is and how proud I was of his accomplishments. I thought this a great opportunity for him to accelerate his learning in school and challenge him more.

The program is a virtual school class replacing either grade level reading or math with an advanced middle school level reading or math. A ton of questions came to mind: What if he starts it and struggles? Can I as a parent allow him to quit the virtual program later and return to his grade level studies and does this set a precedent that he can quit when something gets tough? What if he gets bad grades or does poorly on the FCAT? What happens when he gets to BCMS and has already taken his sixth and seventh grade math online?

In my search for answers I attended a meeting held at Keller Thursday evening. I was very surprised at the small attendance in proportion to the number of letters mailed. I can only assume many parents either weren’t interested in enrolling their kids, spoke with teachers at open house or did their own research online.

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Ailing rescue units ‘just the tip’

Last week one of the county’s ambulances, while transporting a patient, had mechanical problems that prompted rescue personnel to call for a backup unit because the ambulance was “limping in,” as EMS director David Richardson put it this week.

That’s what they call it when the ambulance won’t accelerate above 15 mph because it could cause engine damage.

“It’s another one of those computer things,” said Mr. Richardson.

I had just mentioned what mechanics have been telling me for more than year about my SUV — that the sensor on the rear differential was on the fritz and it would be a cool $80 just to “diagnose” the bug.

I always smile and say, “That’s alright. I’ll just ignore the warning light on my dash board.”

The county, however, can’t be so careless, particularly with all those ambulance-chasing trial lawyers running around.

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