Aug 29, 2011

No Room at the Inn? Ground Zero 10th Anniversary Commemoration

Ok, so I've been trying to resolve in my own mind the whole "who is invited to the 10th anniversary commemoration at Ground Zero" thing. Because, as many have eloquently pointed out, including a very well stated comment by David Manning on Betty Davies post, there are so many who deserve and desire to be there.

So I've been trying to figure out exactly what's going on here... So far I've gleaned that:

The entire Ground Zero site is 16 acres. This, though, includes the ground under the building that has already been reconstructed (7 World Trade Center) and the two that are under construction as well as that under the memorials and all the construction. It's hard to tell from the pictures I found online (see the picture from 2006: and this one from August of this year: exactly how much of that 16 acres is accessible for the ceremony but it's pretty clearly a fraction of that original. After taking out all the buildings and construction zones and other spots where it wouldn't be safe to put people, let's say (though I think this may be optimistically large) it's about 3 acres. That'd probably include the roads but you can close the roads and put people on them so no biggie there.

I did a couple of quick googles and found that you can fit about 5000 people per acre. Now, that wouldn't include the rather large buffer around the president but we'll go optimistic with that as well as ignore the buffer. So, that's about 15,000 people without chairs.

Invited for politicians are: mayor, 2 presidents (Bush and Obama), 4 governors (NY, CT, NJ, and former NJ), and "a few local members of congress" (from this map - - it looks like there are about 18 clustered right around the center of NYC plus a couple of senators. I suspect they wouldn't have invited all those people when they didn't even invite Rudy Giuliani (mayor of NYC at the time of the attached) or George Pataki (NY governor at the time). But let's assume they did. So, that's 26 politicians.

~~ 15,000 - 26 = 14,974

From Wikipedia, I got that there were 2,753 victims in NY from 9/11 (that doesn't include people who died of respiratory illnesses from the cleanup). Of which, there were 343 firefighters, 60 police (NYPD and PANYNJ), and 8 EMTS).

I have no way of calculating the number of relatives of the victims... which makes the math guesswork but let's guess. I've heard through the political grapevine that they've limited the number of relatives per victim but I don't know to how many. 2 seems way too small a number - given that many would have still had living parents, spouses, and children. Neither can I see it being as high as 10. 5, maybe? So, that's 13,770.

~~ 14,974 - 13,770 = 1,204

Ok, so it can't be 5 unless they're counting on people not showing. So, let's deduct 20% of that for people that don't come (normally, I'd say it'd be a higher no-show rate but it is the 10th anniversary so I suspect more will come than not). That's bring the victims' family number down to 11,016

~~ 14,974 - 11,016 = 3,958

I haven't accounted for the secret service around the presidents - 10 of those maybe?

~~ 3,958 - 10 = 3,948

Ok, so let's count members of the New York police and fire departments and the Port Authority police department: 34,500 NYPD uniformed (NYPD website), 11,080 NYFD firefighters, 3,300 NYFD EMTs (both wikipedia), 1,660 PANYNJ police officers (also Wikipedia). That's 50,540 first responders. Ok, let's assume that 1/2 are on duty at any given time (which may be high but the police officers I know, for example, so often have to work overtime that it's definitely more than an 8 hour day). So, 25,270.

So, how do you fit 25,270 first responders... men and women who absolutely deserve to be there... in space for 3,948? Do you tell a mother or a father or a wife or son or a daughter of a victim that he/she can't come? Do you have a lottery for first responders that want to attend? Do you select representatives from each division/precinct? Do you invite them all and just have them spread down the side streets as far as they need to?

And, on top of that, how do you decide who stands where?

I am genuinely curious as to what other peoples thoughts are because this is a dilemma I find very hard to reconcile (and one I am grateful I do not need to reconcile!). Please be respectful of others' opinions however. I believe this is a situation where there are no easy answers and people of good will can honestly disagree and still be good people.


Blogger Brightdreamer said...

The cynic in me says that they won't even try. The actual Ground Zero crowd will consist entirely of politicians and back-scratching buddies thereof, plus a host concerned celebrities and talking heads, with perhaps a token corner in the back cordoned off for the lesser folk (keeping up appearances and all that.) Perhaps live-stream the video to a nearby stadium could handle the actual first responders and their families (a.k.a "the rabble.")

But I never pretended to be an optimist...

Otherwise, I'd say a lottery would be the only fair way to do it, or a simple "first come" basis.

Or stilts. You could pack 'em in two, three high on stilts.

Either way, expect a stink to be made over who was there versus who should've been there. And protesters. Probably an attempt to incite a riot, as well.

5:46 PM  
Blogger Jade said...

There will probably be a number of "I need to look like I care for the upcoming election" people there - them and their security will take up more space.

A lottery for who can be at ground zero is an option... I wonder if - for everyone that cannot fit - if they could gather in Central Park and have the ceremony televised onto big screens - so that they can be out among fellow first-responders, in view of where the towers stood - and participate that way.

3:36 PM  

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