No one in my family died at the World Trade Center, so I cannot speak as one personally bereaved. But I can speak as a New Yorker who lived through that day and stayed on here with my kids, desperately hoping nothing like that ever happens again:

The memorial, with a price tag heading toward $1 billion, must be radically scaled down. Spend the savings on safety -- in the name of those who died.

If America really wants a fitting tribute to the victims, this would be it: Their names emblazoned on the side of new fire trucks, Geiger counters and police radios that (unlike those used on 9/11) actually work in emergencies. That way, we’d see the names of the loved ones we lost, every day, all around us.

“Look, there goes Tim’s ambulance, racing to save a life.”

“Hey, there’s Mira’s subway train camera, watching the tracks for suspicious movement.”

The dearly departed would become an almost angel-like presence, forever watching over us.

Yes, forever. As the equipment wore out, their names would be transferred to new equipment. Thus would the dead be ever preserving life.

I am keenly aware that the families of the victims spent years in the painful process of devising the memorial that is currently planned. But that memorial is starting to sound untenable, with costs spiraling and donations halted after only trickling in.

Respectfully, I ask the families to consider putting a simple, beautiful park and a wall of the names at the site. It would still be a place to gather and mourn. But it would be far less extravagant than the complex of soaring exhibition halls and sunken reflecting pools now planned.

One of the reasons donors have been slow to give money, I suspect, is that the memorial as designed didn’t resonate for them.

The pools are so understated as to be bland, and yet they cost a lot. The same goes for the giant slurry wall that family members fought to keep exposed.

To make matters worse, the blueprints have remained in flux: One day the design is safe, the next day the terrorism experts declare it a death trap. Who gives money to a memorial this volatile, not to mention pricey?

Now that donations have been halted, it is time to pause and reconsider the whole plan, before we begin building something too complicated, expensive and uninspiring.

Let us think outside the footprints, if you will, about what would make for a more meaningful memorial. While the idea of commemorating the dead on safety equipment sounds radical, it does dovetail with everyone’s dearest wish: that terrorism never again take another life.

If the bulk of the memorial funding could be transferred to anti-terror equipment bearing the names of the dead (admittedly, a red tape nightmare), the dearly departed would spend eternity preserving life.

That is holy work.

That would be a holy memorial.