Monday, September 12, 2011

Goodnight Moon. Goodnight Towers of Light So Blue. Goodnight NY, DC, and PA too.

As I was walking around the West Village today, I came across one of the most touching 9/11 displays I have seen, Tiles for America. This array of painted ceramic tiles, which anyone can contribute to, began as a 9/11 memorial by ceramic studios around the world, and has grown to expand to two locations-- one surrounding a chain-link fence at the corner of 7th Ave and 11th Street, and the other at the Tribute WTC Visitors Center at Ground Zero. I am posting some extra-large pictures in the hopes that readers can comprehend this thoughtful tribute and be inspired to visit or even design a tile.

I also have some updates from my previous September 11 post:

As described, this past Saturday morning, Sept 10, Manhattan Community Board 1's "Hand in Hand: Remembering 9/11" participants came together in an extraordinary display of unity, humbleness and resilence in commemorating the tenth anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks. WGINY was there.

"Hand in Hand" Participants Lining Up

At exactly 8:46a.m. (the time the first plane, American Airlines Flight 11, crashed into the North Tower), bells were rung by "Hand in Hand" event volunteers, and the approximately 5000 participants joined hands along the water's edge on the west side of Manhattan to form a human chain that stretched for nearly a mile, beginning near Castle Clinton in Battery Park, and extending all the way north of Chambers Street. As we linked hands, we all observed a moment of silence to reflect and remember 9/11. Listening in silence, I could hear only the rushing water of the Hudson River, the occasional runner, and my own thoughts. This was truly a solemn, yet worthy experience.

Moreover, I was incredibly moved, saddened, and uplifted, all together, by the TIME: VOICES OF 9/11 documentary at the Film Forum. The documentary opened with the survivors' stories, and few moments passed before I was already tearing up. The vivid, firsthand accounts of their struggles to exit the South Tower, the horrors they saw and heard, the people they had to leave behind, grabbed my heart immediately. The black-and-white film scenes featured only each storyteller or commenter, with the eerie photo and video footage of the Towers being hit and then collapsing conspicuously absent. However, that footage was not needed. The poignant descriptions of the attacks, from the various vantage points of the four featured WTC survivors, as well as from businesspeople who happened to be out of the office at the time, from the family of a firefighter who was one of the first-"first responders," as well as from the wife of United Airlines Flight 93 passenger, Jeremy Glick, who spoke with her husband by cellular telephone as he and other passengers determined to form the resistance against the hijackers that brought down Flight 93 in Stonycreek Township, Pennsylvania, created images in my head that will not soon be erased. Manhattan's Fire Battalion 1 Chief at the time, Joseph Pfeifer, now FDNY's Chief of Counterterrorism and Emergency Preparedness, also spoke devastatingly about his decision to order firefighters to ascend the Towers to search and rescue those who remained trapped inside, many of whom courageously responded to his request and never returned, including a Lieutenant who was Pfeifer's brother. Additionally, the film followed a brief but informative timeline of some of the related events unfolding in the days, months, and years after 9/11. There was a clear air of irony as Bush Cabinet Members reiterated that they were justified in invading Iraq, followed by former covert CIA operative, Valerie Plame-Wilson's implication that they were not justified. The juxtaposition of each anecdote in the documentary was phenomenal. I especially loved how the story of two of the South Tower survivors blended together, but I won't give their special bond away. Suffice to say, it was chivalrously heartwarming. In a way, the entire film was chivalrously heartwarming. It chronicled terrible loss, pain and suffering, but it was also a story of bravery, camaraderie, and fortitude. I hope that Time decides to release "VOICES OF 9/11" on DVD, so that those who were unable to attend the free screenings can view it.

And now, the tenth anniversary of the attacks that rocked New York, D.C., Pennsylvania, and the world at large, has come and gone. Of course, we will never forget, but we must also continue to learn from our history. During "VOICES OF 9/11", FDNY Chief Pfeifer noted that, in the wake of 9/11, there was a sense of near-worldwide unity, compassion and support that has steadily diminished as time has carried on, and he suggested that the spirit of remembrance is not just about mourning the victims, but also encouraging the renewed strengthening of these undervalued bonds. They are essential if we are to survive and endure as a nation, as a people, and as a global community.

With that in mind, in the wee hours of September 12, 2011, as a new day will soon dawn, I say Goodnight moon. Goodnight Towers of Light so blue. Goodnight NY, DC, and PA too. Goodnight world. Goodnight moon.

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