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Is it time to retire 'ground zero'?

September 7, 2011 |  5:00 am

As the nation prepares for the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11, New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg wants to bring new symbolism to that date, and suggested that perhaps it's time to retire the "ground zero" moniker.

Instead of remembering Sept. 11, 2001, as the day the terrorists attacked America, he said, it's time to recognize it as the day that American began to rebuild. He called the transformation of the site -- with its new skyscrapers, and its stark and stirring memorial to all the lives lost -- a symbol of triumph over the terrorists. So is the revitalization of Lower Manhattan, Bloomberg said at a breakfast this week hosted by the Assn. for a Better New York.

"As we look back on the past decade, and as the picture of what has happened here comes into sharper focus, I believe the rebirth and revitalization of Lower Manhattan will be remembered as one of the greatest comeback stories in American history," Bloomberg said.

He went on to highlight some of the hallmarks of the city's stubborn determination to rebuild and thrive. Today, Lower Manhattan is not known just for its business district but also for a creative community, as a destination for visitors and a place that many families now call home, thanks to incentives for the TV and film industry, the expansion of parkland and tourist attractions, and new schools and residential buildings. "Ten years ago, none of that was possible," he said.

Bloomberg, whose comments are available in full here, also suggested that this post-9/11 renaissance meant it was time to retire the term "ground zero" because it represents the past, and the attacks.

“We will never forget the devastation of the area that came to be known as ‘ground zero.’ Never. But the time has come to call those 16 acres what they are: The World Trade Center and the National September 11th Memorial and Museum."

He added that this Sunday, the 10th anniversary of the attacks, shouldn't be mired in sadness.

“Let us remember not only the day that time stood still -– but the decade we have spent recovering, rebuilding, and renewing.... there is no challenge that this country can’t meet. That is the ultimate lesson of our past decade."

Photo: A view of the World Trade Center rebuild, and the memorial pool at the site. Credit: Susan Walsh / AFP/Getty Images