World Trade Center 2000, the millennium, we (Lisa and I) visited the Battery and went to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. We saw the names of our forebears who came to this country as immigrants.
2001, a crystal clear blue sky autumn day, 9/11 stands out so clearly. This is the view (my pictures) from my kitchen window. Yeah, I was close, not quite there, but close. The images are searing. When the first tower fell I was on the phone with Vicki. She told me, what my own eyes could not believe. The first tower had collapsed. From this perspective the towers appear next to each other and I thought the flames had jumped across from one building to the other. I could not fathom another plane hitting the other tower. I was fully confident in NYFD to put out a fire. I had seen them do it with my own eyes before. The towers were shrouded in smoke and steam from the dousing water and would reappear when the smoke clears. i waited in vain all day. The smoke never cleared and the buildings were gone – forever.
Twenty years later, I still have a hollow feeling in the pit of my stomach thinking of the profound loss. Another generation has grown up to see the pictures, and the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. We extracted a pound political pound of flesh for the heinous damage. Bin Laden died. Little has changed. The world is not a better place. It is not safer. Extremism, especially in politics is worse. We are less united. And, we are still dumb. The recent drone attack in retaliation for suicide bombing at the Afghan airport appears to have hit bogus terrorists. Pound the shit out of something to make us feel strong! History repeats. Will we ever learn? Lie to me, baby – again. I take no pride in saying I was “there.”
Déjà vu. I try to remember 9/11. Here we are. It’s a round circle. (is there any other kind?) From NYC and WTC to Afghan and back. We got our butts kicked once more. With gusto. History repeats. In the end, we!! gave arms to the Taliban. They will cherish them and “buy” our ammo. Was that the plan? Meanwhile, we donated, no gave away, a trillions dollars (with a “T”)! I guess you cannot make the same mistake twice? Afghan’s chief export is poppies.
Nineteen years. Time fades memory. I nearly forgot. I didn’t. But the raw sense of profound loss has been tempered. Last year we were in Scotland to fulfill a long dream of Colleen’s. We passed this cow on the road looking over the hedge at us. I stopped. Cute! Not a Heilan coo. Maybe? He needed bangs. So, a cow, a cute one at that, and he let me take his picture while he curiously gazed. Yes, nineteen years, a couple generations have passed. Has memory faded so much? I remember. I was there. I know someone who was lost. For many it’s not so personal. Not me.
9/11 is synonymous now with the attack on the World Trade Center. I was at home just getting ready to head to work. I would have driven right past the WTC on my route to work. Instead right out my kitchen window I saw smoke. It was downtown. Not too far by my estimation. I was wrong it was from the WTC. I climbed to my roof and started taking pictures. I called the NY Times to offer the pics. Ha! There were a million pics by the end of the day. I watched it. In retrospect I can see the event unfold.
The second building was struck and new flames shot out. At first, I thought the fire from the first building had jumped to the second. Then, I realized the buildings are separated by nearly ¼ mile. No chance. Then the first building fell, collapsed leaving a cloud of smoke. It was unbelievable. I fully expected the building to reemerge when the fire was controlled. Nope! And then the second building fell.
Unbelievable! No no! It can’t be. The buildings are more than 100 stories tall. There’s no way they would simply collapse. No way. The smoke cleared. The buildings were gone. I knew people who perished. I knew relatives of some of the victims. History was changed.
My home as many others became a refuge. My son brought home two classmates who were stranded. My niece showed up. My wife charged out to try to help the survivors. Unfortunately, there were no wounded. Jules was on a school trip. The bus did not return the kids out of caution. So many years have gone by. I have seen the new building rise from the ruin and ashes. Everyone can tell a story of remembrance. This was mine.
… who knows someone. You know? Six degrees of separation. Well, Mother Theresa is a saint now. She was alive during my time on earth. I am used to thinking that saints were all made before I was born. So there are no new ones. There are a lot of saints. And heaven help your “sainted mother.” But really, everyone has been all agog over Saint Theresa. A saint must perform two miracles. I thought three; I was wrong. It’s hard enough to do two. 1. She made a brain tumor go away. 2. She made a brain infection disappear. Neat! Neurosurgery! Whoa!? Really? I do not know the case nor the circumstance. The church has ruled. It’s a miracle! (Both!)
It’s all good with me. I thought that it’s easier to turn loaves into fish…or whatever. But the miracle for me is that I know someone who actually touched her while she was alive. And she has a relic. That would be real live DNA – a body part (gross) or nail clipping or hair or… I asked. Ginny confirmed. But she can’t find it! But I know she never throws anything away. So it’s around. Things go missing… they don’t know where Kennedy’s brain is. By the grace of god I do not know anyone who died in the WTC on 9/11. But I know people who knew people. That is too close.
There are times I am obtuse. I’m told. So it must be so. That mosque is in Jeddah and quite well known. Jules is in the foreground. We were happily wandering and taking pictures. A large group of Indonesians were organizing a group photo. Some kids were playing soccer nearby. Then, she saw the sign. “No photography!” Who knew? This is the site where they execute sentences – as in “beheading.” No need to lose your head? Stop taking pictures.
In a ‘roundabout way I will meander and recall the Kennedy assassination of 1963. It will be soon fifty years ago. When did I get so old?
Until this day, I remember the assasination of JFK as the sentinel historical tragic event in my life. This is the second. 9/11/82 happens to be our (Lisa and me) anniversary. This many years later 9/11/01 still makes me silent with the pain and the loss. A couple years ago Charlie and I were in the Bell 47 over lower Manhattan making a scouting run for a photo shoot he was to do a few months later. The ‘tower’ can be seen under construction but not yet above the surrounding skyline.
The damaged globe is in Battery Park and waiting for disposition. It’s not supposed to be permanent in this present location. The flags were memorial flags for the 10th Anniversary of the disaster. The victims’ names are printed on them.
And I include the “Lady” because I took this image on the eve of the 10th Anniversary, when I walked through the area with cousin Amy. Hope. And of all things, it happens to be my anniversary. But I married on that date long before it was infamous.
Each year since 9/11 they have installed a light tribute utilizing spotlights to commemorate and represent the lost towers. A new tower will be completed soon. The memorial pools opened this year. In the vast canyon of tall buildings that surround the site, it is amazingly quiet. There is still a hustle and bustle. Travelers and tourists are all about. Families picnic along Hudson park. Workers labor to complete the projects. Life has returned but will never be the same. I’m in the Middle East this year. I don’t expect much remembrance here. Last year I spent the day with cousin Amy and we rode bicycles around, had dinner looking at the Statue of Liberty, and were just in time to catch the spotlights. With all the new construction taking up the available land, the lights were installed on the roof of the municipal parking garage.
Everyone can remember where they were on 9/11. It was my wedding anniversary. It was just after 9AM and I saw smoke from the kitchen window. There’s so much smoke that I figured there was a big fire in midtown. From my rooftop, the photos were unbelievable. Vicki, my wife’s cousin, called to tell me a jet had struck the tower. With my back turned to speak to her, I missed the first tower fall. And, incredibly, I missed the second one fall. In fact when the second tower was struck, I saw the flames shoot out as though the fire had jumped/spread from one building to the other. Of course, I soon realized that the towers are separated by considerable distance and that this was improbable. After both buildings collapsed, there was thick gray and white smoke that lingered. My mind couldn’t grasp that the buildings of that size and bulk had fallen to the ground. I had seen NYFD in action and they put out fires quickly and efficiently. Surely when the smoke cleared, I expected to see the buildings once again. I just knew that the news reporters couldn’t see the building for the smoke. All day, I peered and waited for the smoke to clear. Sadly, I was wrong. Emotionally, this scene still gets to me. David was in school at Collegiate. Lisa was in school at Columbia Grammar. Parents of the students worked at the WTC. Fortunately no one was lost. And Julia was upstate with her class and they didn’t bring her home that evening. Surreal.
The first anniversary of 9/11 saw a tribute in lights installed in one of the empty lots downtown across from the site. It was made by a series of spotlights aimed to the heavens. A few years later, Bob and Kathy were with Lisa and myself. We drove past the WTC site and looking upward saw this picture. The white dots were moving. Dust, bats, or insects, what was moving in the light? Birds. As best I can estimate, it was birds – gulls, probably not pigeons, but certainly big enough and attracted to the lights. They circled and from my vantage looked to have an upward spiral pattern. It made me think of the lost souls from that fateful day ascending to heaven. So solemn and symbolic…