One year ago Janet Napolitano dedicated the 9/11 Memorial at the Arizona Capitol. Greg Patterson, who alerted the world to its flaws last year, points out that the biggest proof of its failure is that this year no one will go near it.
The Memorial does have at least one defender, however — Billy Shields, who chaired the Commission. On Sunday the Arizona Republic gave him a front-page opportunity in their Viewpoints section to defend the Memorial. Here is my response:

Last week I spoke with an Arizona man who lost a close family member and a best friend when the World Trade Centers were attacked six years ago.
He told me he wanted to be able to take his family to Arizona’s 9/11 Memorial on this year’s anniversary but that he couldn’t – the Memorial makes him sick to his stomach.
And that is a shame.
On Sunday Billy Shields – Gov. Janet Napolitano’s apologist and “fall guy” for this embarrassment – once again sets forth a phony interpretation of what happened last year:
“Weeks after the memorial was dedicated and blessed, a politician railed against it and drew it into the ugly world of partisan politics. Horrified that the families who lost loved ones were being victimized again for political purposes, the 9/11 memorial commission agreed to hear additional input on the memorial, but after the election, not in the carnival atmosphere of a partisan election.”
Well Mr. Shields, the “carnival” has been over for a year, and this embarrassing anti-American memorial still stands. Here are the facts of what happened last year:
• The Memorial was politicized when a politician (Gov. Napolitano) in the midst of a re-election campaign saw an opportunity for a huge press event on the eve of the Sept. 12 primaries. She was aided in this by her partisan political crony Billy Shields, who introduced her at this “non-political” event as the best governor in Arizona history. (The close relationship between Shields and Napolitano has been well documented by news accounts – Napolitano has signed an executive order and vetoed a bill in order to protect an exclusive state contract for a Shields’ run student loan organization.)
• The anti-American slogans and liberal bias of the Memorial was first raised not by a “politician” but by local blogger Greg Patterson and picked up nationally by other news organizations.
• Many of us were “horrified” that families of 9/11 victims were being “victimized again” by a Memorial that trivialized their sacrifice, mocked America’s response and hinted at wacky, left-wing 9/11 conspiracy theories.
• I heard from many family members, including some who joined me at the press conference and one who was so outraged he made a TV commercial for my campaign. These family members were thankful we raised the level of attention on the Memorial, and I was grateful for the opportunity to give voice to their concerns.
Elections are about providing voters with information about differences between candidates. Gov. Napolitano thought the Memorial was “honorable” and applauded the work of what she called “[her] commission.” I thought the Memorial was an anti-American embarrassment. Voters were entitled to know about our different views in the context of an election.
But now the election is long over. I don’t have the ability to do anything about the Memorial, but Billy Shields and Janet Napolitano do.
It’s up to them to change a Memorial put in place supposedly to remember the losses of 9-11 – an evil attack on our nation that killed thousands of innocent Americans – but that instead reminds us of American failings and American mistakes, real and imagined, before and after 9-11.
It’s up to them to change a memorial that is a tribute to moral relativism – that celebrates the inability to make moral distinctions between an ideology of hatred, bent on world domination and committed to killing innocent civilians, as compared to an ideology of freedom and hope, committed to government of the people, by the people and for the people.
This monument is the equivalent of a Pearl Harbor memorial that focused primarily on Japanese internment camps. It is not just a question of historical accuracy; it is also a question of judgment, critical thinking and the ability to make moral distinction.
The election is long over. The excuse that this is all “political” is gone. For the sake of the families who cannot bear to visit this embarrassment of a memorial, let’s see some action.


  1. You’re right Len, something must change. I noticed in the AZ Republic a listing of all the places where there would be observances today. There are events at the Tempe Beach Park, Elks Lodge in Scottsdale, Steele Indian School Park, Gilbert, Sun City, American Legion Post on 7th St. in Phoenix, a library in Glendale, and the Mesa Arts Center. A memorial serves no purpose if no one is willing to use it.

  2. Len,
    Thank you. You have proven the critics wrong – that you were “just a politician who was seeking to gain points” by taking on this outrageous memorial. You have proven that you are the real deal by continuing to point out the travesty that Gov. Napolitano and her lackey Shields foisted on us. Your courageous stand is to be applauded. Keep it up.

  3. Len,
    You are absolutely correct on some of those inscriptions. They need to go and you don’t want to wait too long otherwise the new plates will really be conspicuous as the steel continues to tarnish.
    Here are a couple of suggestions for replacement quotes:
    “The most important thing for us is to find Osama bin Laden. It’s our number one priority, and we will not rest until we find him.” George W Bush September 13, 2001
    Something shorter:
    “Mission Accomplished”
    I had attended the dedication of the memorial a year ago and filmed much of it. Today I replayed those clips and I was moved once again by that moment. I was standing behind an old war veteran in a wheelchair who began to sob uncontrollably as the bagpipes blew the haunting melody of Amazing Grace towards the end of the ceremony.
    This year I took the day off to visit the memorial once again and to visit the flag display at Tempe Town Lake. I visited the memorial early in the day meeting two Sikhs who were just leaving as I arrived. Only one or two people showed up besides members of the media to film their remarks on the controversy over this memorial. I stopped by after lunch to see if anything else was happening there. Only a small group of men had gathered talking politics in muted voices.
    Despite the few odious inscriptions this is still a sacred place containing remnants of the devastation on 911. I was surprised no events were held there that I was aware of. I looked in the Arizona Republic and didn’t see any observances at this site.
    In my opinion, this was a real slap in the face of the memory of those Americans who needlessly died on that day.
    I will visit this site every year to remember those who died and those who survived and still suffer the physical and psychological effects of that horrific day.
    What we need are living memorials dedicated to bringing those perpetrators and those in collusion with them to justice. Only through a thorough and unfettered criminal investigation will this be achieved. Only then will our nation truly begin to heal and reconnect with the roots of our democracy.


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