05/05/06 — Memorial fuss: Saving money is good idea, but there are better places

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Memorial fuss: Saving money is good idea, but there are better places

It is almost always nice to hear a congressman of either party suggest that someone should look a little closer at what a project will cost the taxpayers he or she represents — or the rest of the nation, for that matter.

So, on the surface, hearing the news that Rep. Charles Taylor of North Carolina is asking his colleagues on the House Appropriations subcommittee that oversees the Department of the Interior to consider more carefully the bill that would come from a proposed memorial to the passengers of United Flight 93, taxpayers should be jubilant. After all, finally, someone is looking out for the taxpayers’ wallets instead of the good will a vote like this would bring.

But of all the many places Rep. Taylor could have found to look for misspent money and overinflated budgets, the United 93 memorial, which would be located at the site of the plane crash in Pennsylvania, should have been the least of his concerns.

The tribute to the passengers and crew of United 93 — even more so than the Sept. 11 memorial in New York City — should become a place where this nation looks with pride at what being an American really means.

Although the stories of the last moments of the 3,000 victims of the Sept. 11 attacks in New York will be forever etched in the minds of this nation, the story of the 33 passengers and the seven crew who voted to almost decidedly ensure their own deaths rather than allow a plane to crash into Washington, D.C., should forever be a testament to freedom, national pride and courage.

This is a story that should be told over and over again — and one that should become as regular a part of the history books as the horrible reports of the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, in New York City and Washington.

Just hearing how these ordinary people put their country first and fought back rather than sitting quietly in hopes of saving their own lives is reason enough to make sure their memories will never be forgotten. That certainly seems like a good place to spend taxpayers’ money.

Rep. Taylor has held up the funding for the memorial project for two years, saying he wanted to make sure that there would be plenty of private donations and no need to turn to the government for money to finish the tribute to United 93.

And there is nothing wrong with someone making sure that there is a budget and that a certain amount of oversight exists. There is no need for a blank check.

But now that the congressman has been satisfied — at least temporarily — he should become part of the group pushing to make the memorial a reality in Pennsylvania.

And while he is at it, he might want to take some time this weekend to see the movie “United 93,” just to remind himself about the reason for the memorial in the first place.

And after he does all that, perhaps he can look around a little more for more waste in government. That is a mission that is sorely needed.

Published in Editorials on May 5, 2006 11:08 AM