Just as all aspects of our lives were impacted by the pandemic so was this 19th year after 9/11. Ground Zero was shut down
to visitors, there was a huge controversy over whether the Tribute in Light was to be set up or the reading of the names occur,
and the Greek Orthodox Church on the site that was being rebuilt had its progress halted. Read my essay "Remembering
9/11 in the year of COVID-19" for a full report and outcomes.
On 9/11 2001 I stood on
my street in NJ and looking over to lower Manhattan saw the plume of smoke
rising from Ground Zero. The next day the winds shifted and I could SMELL
Ground Zero! A month later I went down to Ground Zero and walked the perimeter
(A Mile of Tears) never to forget that acrid, horrid smell. And even
though it had rained in the previous days that grey dust was still clinging to
After watching news
report after news report that showed people working on the pile and not wearing
masks, I said to myself “Cancer will hit them.” Well, the ensuing years have proved
me right. More than 9,400 registered responders developed cancer and thousands
more experience mental-health conditions, airway ailments and other health
issues. It is to those that this year I dedicate my writings, two poems:
Never Die and The
Flame Inside of Us. I also wrote an essay about
the new memorial at Ground Zero honoring them and
the fight to extend the Victim Compensation Fund: The Year of the Heroes of 9/11.
Time flows like
water into the reflecting pools. Another
year has passed. Ground Zero is fully redeveloped. No trace of what it was like
on that day. Each year marks more deaths, the continuing legacy of the toxic
dust released that day. This year it was finally admitted that more people, not
just first responders, are sick from that dust. (read my essay “Dust Thou Art
and Unto Dust Thou Shalt Return”). More cancers, more strange illnesses, all of
which needed time in order to rise their ugly head.
The day’s solemnity was overshadowed by the media’s
continuous reporting on Florence, a cat 4 hurricane barreling down on the
Carolinas. Water…water churning at 140mph…water like the water that dowsed the
flaming pile, like the water that falls into the Memorial’s reflecting
pools…washing over never ending grief.
new postings that describe this past year in a nutshell:
The poem “Does Anyone Care Anymore”
my essay “Where Is Our Story Teller of Pain?”
The transit hub opened. It’s a beautiful
space, and yes it connects all the train lines but its layout is very confusing. Lots of signs but no maps! The new park
on the southern end of Ground Zero is being promoted as another Highline like space but to me just an unimaginative place
with some greenery. Click here for my pictures and writeup. The 9/11 Museum just opened a very interesting exhibit of artists whose theme is 9/11. Construction
has started on the performing arts center but do we really need that so close to a sad and sacred space? And there were more
first responder deaths from working in the toxic environment of Ground Zero 15 years ago. A very diverse year indeed.
Slowly the WTC site is being completed. This past year saw the
observation deck of WTC1 open to the public (and to the thrill seekers who snuck up before it was opened!) The transportation
hub with its wing-like canopy also was completed creating a magnificent opening for commuters to enter Ground Zero. Once again,
except for the morning reading of the names, it was a day for “business as usual” with no special television programs
except for the nightly news. One interesting item on the news was a report that the “Survivor Pear Tree” which
is growing nicely on the site, has spawned little trees from its seeds. And these seedlings are going out throughout New York
to firehouses to plant in memory of their lost members.
World Trade Center 1 (the Freedom Tower)
is totally completed and will open to the public by year’s end. World Trade Center 4 is also completed (it’s a
squat ugly building in my opinion) and I’ve heard businesses are moving in. Also there are no more tickets and checkpoints
needed to visit the memorial. It’s a plaza open to the public, finally becoming what it should have been all along,
a space where one can come and go and not feel like you’re going through airport security.
The museum is finally open and from what
my friends, who have shelled out the $25 to go in, tell me it is an unforgettable experience. In my opinion it should be free
because all the elements that originally were supposed to go into the memorial as the design contest specifications required,
now are housed in an expensive “museum”.
My big regret for this 13th
year was that on Sept 11 we all just went about our business. Except for the morning reading of the names there was not one
televised program with 9/11 or Ground Zero as its topic. And in years past the networks would start their broadcasts live
from Ground Zero at least an hour before the ceremony, this year it was like 15 minutes of air time. Oh, and CBS had to, just
had to, “kick off” their football Thursdays thing on the 9/11 Thursday. They couldn’t have waited a week?
Well what should one expect from a nation where we shop to drop on
Thanksgiving and Christmas, and Pearl Harbor day is just a brief line on the day’s news.
It was the year that Superstorm Sandy
flooded the southern tip of Manhattan and dumped thousands of gallons of water
and debris onto the Memorial site. The waterfalls and the plaques with the names ringing them were undamaged. (read my poem
“Stronger Than the Storm” inspired by this event). The Memorial was shut down only for a week, than reopened on generator power. The visitor center and a private entrance room for victims' families saw about 4 feet of water and in the unfinished
museum, the water rose as high as 8 feet. (Slated to open this year, it was delayed by financial issues. Latest word is it
will open in Spring 2014) Thus the historic, man made disaster of 9/11 had come years later face to face with a natural catastrophe
of unseen proportions.
It was also a year where 1 WTC was completed, with its antenna achieving the symbolic 1776’ height,
and WTC 4 will soon see its occupants move in. Some progress, but not controversies, so, in the end, nothing really spectacular
The 11th anniversary was a very uneventful day. Seems we are going to turn it into just another regular day. Not one
TV network had any special shows during the day or during prime time. There was only the morning reading of the names with
some coverage about Ground Zero a scant hour prior. If we are never to forget, then why is the media putting sitcoms, movies,
and talk shows ahead of what is really important on this day? They are the ones that did such an excellent job on 9/11 2001 and
they have the power to make this a day like none other on the calendar. Why don’t they? It seems ratings and $$ will
win out in the end.
The Memorial has risen out of the dust. The miles of fence are still there but in places you can actually look into
Ground Zero. WTC 1 (renamed from the Freedom Tower) is halfway completed and towers above all the lower Manhattan skyscrapers.
The Memorial Museum’s glass shell is erected and completion slated for next year.
The media are giving more
coverage to 9/11 – past and present – than in any year since 2002. With images replayed from that fateful day,
we definitely cannot forget…at least not for now. But what will happen in the 11th, 12th and continuing years? Will
this day be turned into another Memorial Day or 4th of July? Once they were solemn days for our nation, now they are commercialized
and worthless. Grief takes no holiday, so let us never forget that grief and loss is what 9/11 is all about.
It's was so terribly sad that this year’s anniversary was “hijacked” by the mosque controversy permeating
the news for days before Sat. 11 and right before the actual ceremony began. Also, what a circus when we had a Christian pastor
create his media stunt threatening to burn Korans, and 2 demonstrations were going to go head to head right on Saturday. All
of NYC was divided on this issue. How unlike the days after 9/11 when there was such a feeling of unity.
Maybe next year will be different. Maybe we will finally see the memorial rise out of the dust. Maybe…for now
all we can see is miles of fence.
8th Anniversary 2009
Memories, in the end that’s really all we have. Recently I watched a show I had taped 2 weeks after 9/11/01. As
I viewed the Towers collapsing, my mind asked “was this real? Did it happen?” To the recovery workers who are
now getting cancer and to the people whose loved ones are gone, it is still all too real. Let us remember:
One was vaporized. One jumped form a burning window. One was crushed under a steel beam. One business lost over 600 of
its work force. One father lost a son. One mother lost a daughter. One husband lost a wife.
8 years, 3287 days…
One firefighter dies of cancer. One wife sets up a charity in her husband’s memory.
One day a memorial will rise out of the pit at Ground Zero.
Each and everyONE of us is committed to remember.
is in remembering that they all live on: today and for ONE day, forever. Let us never forget.
For we are human.
We are one.
The years pass…for some it still feels like yesterday, others have moved on, some blot that day out not wanting
to remember. And as the years pass, this day of remembrance becomes less and less important in the scheme of things. Current
economic problems, politics, and natural disasters overshadow what happened 7 years ago…except for those who lost a
loved one. Some find solace in the memorials that have been built or are in the process of being built. But Ground Zero still
lies as a wasteland. How sad. That is what my poem Walking the Perimeter of Emptiness
6th Anniversary - 2007
Another anniversary, the rain fell upon Ground Zero like sad tears. Some say that everything changes so we must move
on, we must put it behind us. Changes…to make progress on the WTC memorial, the Pit has been turned into a huge construction
site, forcing the ceremony to move across the street!
The television networks covered the morning’s events but prime time TV was just like any other Tuesday. It was
not like any other Tuesday, because this day is about a loss that can’t be measured. It’s also about the continuing
tragedies of finding human remains, mismanaged demolition resulting in new deaths, and health problems plaguing those who
inhaled the dust 6 years ago. Dust, a mixture of carcinogens and human DNA!
The chairs for the ceremony were neatly lined up in Zuccotti Park. Over time those chairs will become empty. One
day the last spouse, family member, child, survivor will vanish. Who will truly remember the dead then? Read my essay Empty Chairs
5th Anniversary - 2006
What have we now after 5 years? No memorial, continuing political hassles, Ground Zero is still filled with dust. Yes,
they've started to work on the memorial, and WTC 7 is complete. Will year 6 see any positive progress? Read my essay "I Miss 9/11"
for my personal opinion on all these things.
The 4th Anniversary 2005
As the fourth anniversary has come to pass, Ground Zero remains an open pit. A scar on the earth, its emptiness reflecting
the pain of that morning. Tourists from all corners of the globe still flock to the site, curious to see the epicenter of
this historic event. They are hungry for information, hungry to learn about the events of that day. And four years later all
we have on that site is dust, a cross of beams, and a metal fence with a brief history of the World Trade Center along with
a list of those who perished. This past year saw mostly battles and controversies erupt over exactly what should be done in
order to rebuild the area and memorialize the dead and the missing. Read the rest of the essay
The 3rd anniversary is upon us. The past year saw the opening of the new PATH train station, a design for the rebuilding
of the Ground Zero neighborhood was chosen, the WTC memorial competition announced a winner, and ground was broken for the
building of the Freedom Tower. The families of the lost and missing still go on grieving. The dust still swirls over Ground
Zero and flowers continue to be placed in the fences around its boarders.
It was a quieter year. Hopefully, as we attend our ceremonies of remembrance, we'll continue to
remember the day, those who lost their lives, the missing, and those who remain behind. May we never forget.
Sept 11 2003 Second Anniversary
A year of controversy, a year of rebirth, a year of potential, a quite different year from the
first. We cycled through the seasons still feeling the loss, still feeling the pain. The hole in the ground, the gap in the
skyline, the hurt in our hearts remained.
But the city was renewing itself. The 1& 9 trains once again ran through to Manhattan’s tip.
The Winter Garden had been restored. An architect was chosen for the rebuilding of the WTC site. The construction of 7 WTC
had started. Work had been started on a new Path train station. A competition for a memorial at Ground Zero saw an unprecedented
outpouring of submissions from the world over.
The seeds for the next year were being sown. A memorial design will be chosen from among the 5200. The
Path station will open bringing commuters daily into the heart of Ground Zero. Downtown is resurrecting itself. Let’s
hope that the wishes of the ones who really matter, the individuals who lost loved ones, will be allowed to have a voice in
It feels like yesterday. The tragedy, the images, the terror, and the sorrow are still fresh even after a year has passed.
As the 9/11 year ends and the second year begins, my prayers go out to the survivors: the ones who experienced the horror
first hand and the ones who now must live their lives without their loved ones. I pray that God will grant all of you the
peace and strength that you need to mend your lives and face each new day.
The loss of lives in the WTC tragedy is beyond comprehension. Never in all of our history have so many people died all
at once and in one place. Healing from that loss will take individuals and our Nation a long, long time.
For some of
us there is also another loss to contend with: the death of the Twin Towers. They were not just a skyline marker or an abstract
symbol. They were a part of our lives, they held precious memories.
I have been connected to the Twin Towers and the
surrounding buildings for over 15 years. I've worked in the Wall Street area, coming in and going home each day through the
Path station beneath them. I went to conferences, job fairs, meetings, and dinners in that vast area called the World Trade
Center. I saw the world from the 110th story of the Windows on the World restaurant, delighted friends and strangers alike
with my tour guide like talks about the view of Brooklyn, Staten Island, NJ and the Bronx. I shopped in the Mall created underneath
the plaza and had favorite stores and favorite salespeople. When life started depressing me, I would head for the Hudson River
boat dock and look at the boats moored there or walk along Battery Park City's Esplanade. Sunsets over NJ were my most memorable
Then on Sept 11, 2001 in the space of about an hour, all of that vaporized. Unlike construction, which razes
buildings to be replaced by new ones, this was not done through a plan executed over time. Unlike returning to a neighborhood
after many years absence and seeing buildings gone and new ones in their place, something you expect. No, this was swift and
without warning. My memories are now buried beneath the rubble. I can walk through the plaza and Mall only in my dreams. And
there will never be another view from the 110th floor. And the worse is that every trip into Manhattan, be it by bus or train,
there will be a hole in the skyline, where once the Towers stood, reminding me of my loss.
Many people feel like me, grieving the death of the Twin Towers. One friend who moved to Puerto Rico years ago but with
whom I shared lunches in WTC area, keeps saying incredulously, "But they are gone!". People who worked on the Towers and saw
them rise higher and higher, have made comments along the line "it's like seeing your child die."
As much as the death of humans supercedes any other destruction, we all must deal with loss no matter what its form.
I have decided to share with you my love of the WTC, why it meant so much to me and how Black Tuesday impacted my life. I
would like to show you unique photographs I took down at the WTC, my writings in the aftermath of its destruction, and other
items that will be added as this site grows. My hope is that by sharing my memories and my grief, the Twin Towers can live
on in our hearts and our grief can, at some point, be quelled.