Controversy over Capitol’s Sept. 11 memorial rekindles
Published: March 28, 2011 at 3:10 pm
Arizona’s Sept. 11 commemorative memorial is again under fire at the State Capitol.
Legislation proposed for consideration by a Senate committee Tuesday would require removal of panels bearing 11 inscriptions that a supporter of the measure said are “offensive” and that detract from the memorial’s purpose in honoring those killed and injured in the 2001 terrorist attacks.
“Instead of it being a true patriotic memorial to dead and wounded, other agendas were … trying to arouse American guilt and other things that many of us believe should not be there,” said Sen. Al Melvin, R-Tucson. “This has been a longstanding problem and I’m proud to be a party of legislators (working) to get his fixed once and for all.”
Inscriptions that would be removed include ones that say “Foreign-born Americans afraid,” “Must bomb back” and “You don’t win battles of terrorism with more battles.”
The state commission that raised private funding for the memorial and chose its design replaced two other inscriptions several years ago in response to criticism.
The inscriptions, which were submitted by the public, are etched into a steel visor that partially circles the memorial located at Wesley Bolin Memorial Plaza near the Capitol.
Billy Shields, a former Phoenix firefighters union leader who was chairman of the memorial commission, said the legislative proposal to change the privately funded memorial is outrageous.
“We had family members on our commission that had lost loved ones on 9-11. We had a broad cross-section of Arizonans — Republicans and Democrats — and we went out to the public when we changed it,” Shields said. “It was a process, and it would let all those people down and the process down to change it through legislation.”
The memorial was dedicated in 2006 on the fifth anniversary of the attacks and became an issue in the 2006 gubernatorial race between Democratic then-Gov. Janet Napolitano and Republican nominee Len Munsil.
Napolitano appointed half of the memorial commission’s members. Former Gov. Jane Hull, a Republican, appointed the others.
The House in 2008 passed a bill to remove all of the inscriptions and replace them with a timeline of events on Sept. 11, 2001. The 2008 bill died in the Senate as lawmakers said they preferred to have the commission consider making changes.
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