Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Does it Align with Mecca?

Arizona Republic - Republican Len Munsil vowed Monday to tear down the Arizona Sept. 11 Memorial in the state Capitol Mall if elected governor.

Munsil, who is running against Democratic Gov. Janet Napolitano, said some messages on the new monument are objectionable and can't be trusted.

Flanked by family members of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, Munsil blasted the $500,000 monument's inscriptions as being political commentary on war rather than historical fact on the terrorist attacks.

The sculpture, called "Moving Memories," consists of facts and comments designed to represent viewpoints related to the Sept. 11 attacks and their aftermath. Some messages display historic facts, such as when airplanes hijacked by terrorists struck the World Trade Center.

Munsil said that taken as a whole, the messages indict the U.S. government and mock the Bush administration.

Other critics of the sculpture have objected to specific messages, including one that says, "You don't win battles of terrorism with more battles."

"It's an anti-war mentality and an anti-American mentality," said Munsil, who won the Republican bid one day after the memorial was dedicated on Sept. 11. "The people of Arizona need to know that this is what's on state property."

During last week's dedication ceremony, Napolitano said the memorial was built to preserve the meaning of Sept. 11 for future generations. While flying to Prescott on Monday, Napolitano called the memorial "impressive and meaningful" and continued to support it.

"It's a respectful memorial to the tragedy of 9/11," she said. "For him to politicize the 9/11 memorial like that is just shameful. I just think it's very sad."

The monument, in Wesley Bolin Plaza, features quotes, dates, anecdotes and a timeline of key events associated with the attacks carved out through a huge metal ring. Napolitano appointed half of the 30 members of a commission that helped design the memorial. Former Gov. Jane Hull, who created the panel in 2002, seated the other half. Several members are Arizonans who had loved ones killed in the 2001 attacks.

Munsil promised to dismantle the monument if elected and replace it with one featuring phrases such as "United We Stand" and "Let's roll," reportedly among the last words uttered by passengers who tried to retake United flight 93 on Sept. 11.

"It's a disgrace," said Robert Zurheide, whose son Robert, a Marine lance corporal, was the first Tucson resident killed in Iraq. "It's a slap in the face to every one of our sons who have sacrificed and to every one of the victims of 9/11."