Still remembering

September 11, 2008

This spot on the Brooklyn Promenade once afforded a clear view of the World Trade Center. It rose high above the New York skyline, two rectangles pointing straight up into the heavens. Now, there is a hole in the sky.

Tonight, as in years past, two blue beams of light take the place of those buildings destroyed seven years ago. The lights are visible only from sunset to sunrise, then are turned off and disappear for another year.

Each year, fewer and fewer people come here to remember what happened on September 11, 2001. Fewer signs are hung, fewer candles are burned, fewer flowers placed along the cast iron fence.

But I still come here every year. I still come to light candles, look at the blue beams of light, and think about those lost in the horror on the other side of the river. Seven years have passed, but, tonight especially, I still remember.

Candles burning on the Promenade

The wreath says “September 11 – Broken Sky”

The lights reflecting against a cloud

Day of Remembrance

September 10, 2008

They called it a Day of Remembrance, but the discussion was as much about the future as it was about the past and the emotions evoked were as much anger as sadness.

After the invitations were printed and sent, two notable guests were added to the agenda: Daniel Rodriguez, a former member of the NYPD who is known as the “singing policeman,” and Bill Clinton. Both men brought the crowd to its feet.

Daniel Rodriguez

Bill Clinton at the podium

Bill Clinton


NY1: WTC-Affected Families Press Bill Clinton To Help Exhume Remains
International Herald Tribune: Bill Clinton concerned about 9/11 scholarship fund
WCBS TV: Clinton Sounds Off On Treatment Of 9/11 Families
Voices of September 11th Seventh Anniversary Events
Daniel Rodriguez
NPR: The Singing Policeman
Families of Freedom Scholarship Fund

A Conversation About Bold Imagination

November 18, 2007

I wasn’t there when it happened, but growing up I was fascinated by accounts of the amazing, astonishing, never-to-be-repeated feat. I poured over pictures, watched videos and even had (still have) a picture book about the events of August 7, 1974.

That was the day Philippe Petit stretched a wire across the gap separating the towers of the World Trade Center and walked between them, 110 stories above the ground. He captivated New Yorkers, made headlines around the world and was promptly arrested (charges were later dropped).

Today I had the opportunity to hear the high wire artist, magician and culture outlaw tell his mesmerizing story during a program called A Conversation About Bold Imagination. The event, held at the Tribute Center, reunited Petit with Guy Tozzoli, the Port Authority executive who oversaw the creation of the towers.

During their first meeting, more than 30 years ago, Tozzoli inadvertently gave Petit the information he needed to sneak into the towers and carry out his illegal, subversive but magnificent feat. Speaking before a small, rapt audience, the men joyously recounted the visions they both brought to life at the World Trade Center, inspiring their listeners to follow their own dreams.

Oh, and Philippe Petit signed my book, The Man Who Walked Between the Towers. Yay!

Guy Tozzoli

Philippe Petit

Philippe Petit & Guy Tozzoli

PBS: Philippe Petit
Tribeca Trib: Towering Feat
New York Daily Photo: Titans
Tribute Center

Six Years On

September 11, 2007

This is the sixth anniversary of the destruction of the World Trade Center.

In previous years, the city held a memorial service at the site of the vanished complex. But now, due to the construction equipment and activity at the original location, the ceremony was moved across the street to tiny Zuccotti Park.

It was a day of firsts: The first time the service wasn’t held at the site of the Twin Towers. The first time the anniversary fell on a Tuesday (the day of the attacks). The first time the sky wasn’t a clear, brilliant blue. The first time grieving family members and survivors didn’t have access to the spots where the buildings had stood.

During the ceremony, while a flute and guitar softly played, first responders who had worked during the rescue and recovery efforts stood in the rain and read the nearly 3,000 victims’ names. They paused only for four moments of silence marking the times the hijacked airplanes hit the buildings and the times the towers fell.

Those in attendance were able to cross the street and descend a long ramp to the bedrock that had supported the foundations of the World Trade Center. There a single, shallow wooden pool had been erected to represent the footprints of the Twin Towers. That was where they left pictures, placed birthday gifts and anniversary cards, and wrote messages for and about those they’d lost.

Once the dignitaries departed, the marksmen left the rooftops of the surrounding buildings, the reporters and photographers went on to the next story and the chairs were folded up and taken away, the day’s on-and-off drizzle turned into a torrent of rain.

Down at the site, deep below ground level, the downpour overflowed the small wooden pool, blurred the penned notes and photos along its rim, and shattered the thousands of roses that floated on its surface. 

Note: More photos from the memorial service are posted here.


Girl at service with photo in her arms & on her shirt

Tattoo of Uncle Mike

NYPD officer with thousand-yard stare

Therapy dogs with girls

TV in Port Authority trailer showing live broadcast

Flowers in fence surrounding site

Pool with replicas of tower footprints

Thank you for being my friend

“We lost both,” she said.

We miss u Uncle Harry

We love and miss you

Save us a space on your shimmering star

Matthew Diaz

I ♥ you!

FDNY photo in the pool

Dad, keep holding the door

Happy 29th birthday

Volunteer distributing roses

Police officer writing on reflecting pool

I love you so much daddy

God bless

Teddy bear with roses

Family coming back up the ramp

NYC Dept of Parks: Remembering Those Lost On 9/11
ABC: Video of a somber day
NY Post: Heaven’s Tears Flow
AM New York: Somber, emotional ceremony
NY Times: Bloomberg Tries to Move the City Beyond 9/11 Grief
NY Times: 90th Floor Frozen, Even as Ground Zero Changes
NY TImes: Near Ground Zero, Much Is Changed
NY Times: How Much Tribute Is Enough?

Painting a Garden in Transit

April 1, 2007

“The project will highlight on a mass scale goodwill, hope and triumph on a city, national and international level.”

This space on 32nd Street has been empty ever since the last tenant, a discount store known as Amazing Savings (formerly Odd Job Trading Company) declared bankruptcy. Now, at least for a while, the place is again bustling with activity because Portraits of Hope has come to town.

A non-profit, California-based organization, Portraits of Hope has created unique, high profile, inspirational public art projects around the world. They are now in New York to work on an innovative program called Garden in Transit.

For the next few months, thousands of people from hospitals, schools, and community groups around the city will come here to paint stylized flowers onto plastic panels. Once completed, these removable, weatherproof panels will be affixed to the roofs, hoods and trunks of 12,760 New York City cabs.

From September 1 to December 31, during the centennial celebration of the metered taxi, the decorated cars will serve as a vibrant, colorful Garden in Transit as they drive through the streets of the city.

Grandma helps a painter
Originally uploaded by annulla.

A painter
Originally uploaded by annulla.

Taxi 07

Painting the panels
Originally uploaded by annulla.

Portraits of Hope
Garden in Transit
Hotel Pennsylvania
Amazing Savings
Amazing Savings to reorganize in midst of bankruptcy

With Lights We Remember

September 11, 2006

Candles, bulbs and beams stretching up to the heavens mark the ways we remember with lights. In 24 hours, when the lights have been melted away, turned off and burned out, still we will remember.

The Empire State Building crowned in red, white & blue  Posted by Picasa

Memorial candles on the Brooklyn Promenade  Posted by Picasa

Lower Manhattan from the Brooklyn Promenade  Posted by Picasa

Under a Clear Blue Sky

September 11, 2006

It takes nearly four hours to read all the names one by one. Four hours in the bright sunlight, under a clear blue sky, as they are said in alphabetical order. Nearly 3,000 names — from Gordon Aamoth to Igor Zukelman — recited by voices that are firm with determination, shaking with fury, breaking into sobs.

As the hours pass, the mourners make their way down the long, long ramp into the pit. They carry objects that symbolize those they lost: a photograph, a poem, a teddy bear, a sweatshirt, a mass card, a baseball pennant, a toy car.

When they reach the bottom they gravitate to two shallow pools, temporarily erected with two-by-four planks, in the footprints of the missing towers. There, even those who have no graves to visit can drop flowers into the water, write messages on the raw wooden planks, pray, cry, salute, embrace and remember.

You’re a grandfather now, Dad. Posted by Picasa

I hope you made it into heaven Posted by Picasa

Dear Aunt Margaret Posted by Picasa

For all the souls of the 78th floor Posted by Picasa

Hope you’re listening to a little James Taylor Posted by Picasa

God Bless U All  Posted by Picasa

PS The Mets are winning Posted by Picasa

In 1st place Posted by Picasa

I never forgot  Posted by Picasa

Rest in peace Mommy Posted by Picasa

Grandpa, you are our hero!  Posted by Picasa

Golden angel Posted by Picasa

General Lee  Posted by Picasa

Blue rosary Posted by Picasa

Wish you could play with us Posted by Picasa

  • CNN: A List of Names

  • Planting a Hope

    September 10, 2006

    He who plants a tree
    Plants a hope.
    ~Lucy Larcom

    On April 15, 1995, terrorists attacked the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. The structure was destroyed and 168 people killed, many of them young children.

    Against all odds, an ancient elm tree growing near the building survived the blast. After the horror and wreckage was cleared away, fragile new growth emerged from its blackened, wounded branches. Those affected by the attack called it the Survivor Tree and it quickly became seen as a symbol of hope and resilience. Seeds from the tree were carefully gathered and planted; representatives from Oklahoma City brought one of the resulting trees to New York City.

    Today, speakers representing several faiths gathered near City Hall and described what the tree meant within their own traditions and beliefs. Then they — and survivors of the attacks on the Murrah Building and the World Trade Center — gently placed shovels full of earth around the young tree meant to symbolize healing and unity.

    The sapling from the Survivor Tree joins five trees, already moved to this spot, that lived through the attack on the World Trade Center. These six trees, survivors all, form a living memorial grove, a small pocket of faith and hope, at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge.

    Ven. C. Chen, American Buddhist Confederation Posted by Picasa

    Rev. Julie Taylor, Disaster Chaplaincy Services Posted by Picasa

    Rabinder Singh, United Sikhs Posted by Picasa

    Mohammad Ravzi, Council of Peoples Organization Posted by Picasa

    Rabbi Craig Miller, Jewish Community Relations Council Posted by Picasa

    Victoria Ramsey, Union Theological Seminary Posted by Picasa

    Antonio Mondesire, Awo Ifa Olo-Obatala Posted by Picasa

    The littlest tree planter Posted by Picasa

    Akiva & Co. playing Posted by Picasa

  • Oklahoma City National Memorial: Survivor Tree
  • WTC Survivors Network
  • American Buddhist Study Center
  • United Sikhs
  • Disaster Chaplaincy Services
  • Union Theological Seminary
  • Lucy Larcom

  • Eleven Tears

    September 9, 2006

    Eleven silver strands of light,
    Eleven facets of a gleaming heart,
    Eleven tears, forever falling, on
    Eleven names in a tranquil pool.

    While the government is still years away from constructing even the simplest memorial to the thousands who died on September 11, 2001, American Express has commissioned and constructed a work of art to honor the 11 AMEX employees killed in the terrorist attack.

    Entitled 11 Tears, it occupies a lobby corner of American Express’ corporate headquarters at the World Financial Center. The work was designed by landscape architect Ken Smith, a native of Iowa who now lives and works in lower Manhattan. It “unites sky and ground, heaven and earth” and incorporates natural elements: water, light, quartz crystal and black granite. At the center is a 600 pound tear-shaped piece of Brazilian quartz, which was carved to have 11 sides, one for each victim.

    The massive crystal is set into a stainless steel ring and suspended from the ceiling by 11 thin cables. Beneath the point of the upside-down tear is an 11 sided black granite pool; each side is inscribed with the name of an employee and a few words, selected by those who knew them best, to summarize the people they were.

    At random intervals, 11 drops of water fall from the ceiling into the pool, creating intersecting ripples, “symbolizing the connections among the close-knit group of colleagues and friends.” The fountain is surrounded by benches of matching black granite.

    Visitors sitting there and looking through the windows find themselves gazing directly at the site where the 11 died, working as American Express travel counselors on the 94th floor of One World Trade Center.

    Lisa Kearney-Griffin Posted by Picasa

    Bridget Esposito Posted by Picasa

    Benito Valentin Posted by Picasa

    Yvonne Bonomo Posted by Picasa

    Anne Talsky Ransom Posted by Picasa

    Lucia Crifasi Posted by Picasa

    Karen Renda Posted by Picasa

    Paul T. Zois Posted by Picasa

    Sigrid Wiswe Posted by Picasa

    Loretta Ann Vero Posted by Picasa

    Gennardy Boyarsky Posted by Picasa

    Out the window is the World Trade Center Posted by Picasa

    In Memoriam Posted by Picasa

    Architect Ken Smith Posted by Picasa

  • Iowa State University: Ken Smith
  • Lawrence Stoller CrystalWorks
  • New York Times: The Enduring Salute
  • JCK-Jewelers Circular Keystone: AMEX Remembers Eleven
  • American Express

  • Welcome to 7 WTC

    May 23, 2006

    The first tenant moved in yesterday, but the grand opening of the building at 7 World Trade Center was delayed until noon today. The usual dignitaries spoke, a blue ribbon was cut, cameras flashed, reporters took notes and then the real welcome began with a free concert featuring what was billed as “seven downtown artists.”

    The show started with famed Irish tenor Ronan Tynan, who performed in front of the new fountain with a choir of neighborhood school-children, then climbed onstage and sang solo, ending with the words “God bless America.”

    He was followed by Americana-gospel hybrid Ollabelle, the legendary Lou Reed (who sang his classic Sweet Jane), folk troupe Pharaoh’s Daughter, singer-songwriter Citizen Cope (who gave me one of his CDs), singer-songwriter Suzanne Vega (who sang her hits Luka and Tom’s Diner), electronica quartet the Brazilian Girls and the jazz of Bill Ware & Vibes.

    An extra treat was provided the Soda Shop, an old-fashioned soda fountain situated on Chambers Street, a few blocks north of 7 WTC, which dished up free snacks of pure comfort New York food – egg creams, lime rickeys, pretzels, macaroni & cheese, miniature hot dogs and tiny pastel-buttercream frosted cupcakes.

    Hanging a banner on the facade Posted by Picasa

    Ronan Tynan performs Posted by Picasa

    Member of Ollabelle performing Posted by Picasa

    Lou Reed performing Posted by Picasa

    Lou Reed performs Posted by Picasa

    Pharaoh’s Daughter performs Posted by Picasa

    Citizen Cope performs Posted by Picasa

    Suzanne Vega performsPosted by Picasa

    Brazilian Girls perform Posted by Picasa

    Bill Ware performing Posted by Picasa

    Elaine Amherd of Bill Ware & Vibes Posted by Picasa

    Ollabelle signing autographs  Posted by Picasa

    Lou Reed signing an autograph Posted by Picasa

    Taking an order for an egg cream Posted by Picasa

    Fountain with Balloon Flower by Jeff Koons Posted by Picasa

  • 7 World Trade Center
  • Newsday: 7 World Trade Center Opens
  • Soda Shop
  • Ronan Tynan
  • Ollabelle
  • Lou Reed
  • Pharaoh’s Daughter
  • Citizen Cope
  • Suzanne Vega
  • Brazilian Girls
  • Bill Ware & Vibes

  • Tribute In Light

    September 11, 2005

    Twin beams of light now mark the place where two mighty towers rose and fell. Each year, on the date of the World Trade Center’s destruction, brilliant blue towers shine into the heavens from dusk until dawn.

    I shot this photo from my rooftop.

    Tribute in light Posted by Picasa

  • Tribute In Light
  • Tribute In Light Explained

  • Four years

    September 11, 2005

    Today a memorial service was held at the site where the World Trade Center once stood. Security was, of course, very tight. A chorus of children sang. A small orchestra played. Politicans spoke. The Secretary of State read a poem by Christina Rossetti, and then the brothers and sisters of the victims read the names and spoke briefly about – and to – those lost four years ago.

    We will be twins forever.”
    I know you are watching over the kids from heaven.”
    Every day brings us closer to the time we’ll be together again.”
    You are my hero.”
    In memory of my brother, my sister-in-law and their unborn child.”
    Thank you for the joy you gave us for 27 years.”
    Our hearts are broken.”
    You were my baby brother. I took care of you all your life.
    You did so much in such a short time.”
    I’m wearing this bright pink because he loved bright colors.”
    We are all proud of you.”
    I’d give up tomorrow for just one yesterday with you.”
    Daddy hasn’t been the same since we lost you.”
    We love you and miss you every day.”
    There was so much you wanted to do and you never had a chance to do it.”
    My brother….”
    My sister….”
    Mi corazón….”

    Four times bells rang out, four times the crowd was silent:

  • 8:46 a.m., when American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into Tower One
  • 9:02 a.m., the time United Airlines Flight 175 dove into Tower Two
  • 9:59 a.m., the moment Tower Two fell
  • 10:28 a.m., when Tower One went down
  • Hundreds of uniformed police and fire officers wore small black ribbons imprinted with “WTC” on their chests, indicating that they served at the site on that day. Many friends and family members literally wore their hearts on their sleeves, attending the service clad in t-shirts and badges printed with the names and photos of those they lost.

    Thousands walked down the massive concrete ramp into the gravel-strewn pit that had served as the foundation of the World Trade Center. Volunteers offered long-stemmed roses to those who were descending. Chaplains stood ready to offer comfort. Red Cross workers circulated with bottles of water, cookies and packets of Kleenex.

    Two shallow pools, edged with planks of raw wood, were erected where the two towers had stood. Mourners propped photos and stuffed animals alongside the edges, dropped flowers, notes and religious symbols into the water, and inscribed notes onto the wood. A childish scrawl alongside a drawing of a dog said, “Dad, I am being good and taking care of the animals.” Nearby, a neat, precise hand wrote, “Nancy, you were the best daughter in the world. I’ll see you soon. Love, Mommy.”

    Some of those assembled scattered rose petals to the wind, or used the flowers and stones to spell out their messages of grief. Several trained therapy dogs patiently allowed shaking mourners to hug them and weep into their golden coats.

    The sky was the same shade of blue. The sun shone at the same angle. But four years later, nothing else was the same.

    The survivors’ staircase Posted by Picasa

    At the bottom of the ramp Posted by Picasa

    Red Cross worker Posted by Picasa

    1WTC stood here Posted by Picasa

    2WTC stood here Posted by Picasa

    The pool filled with roses Posted by Picasa

    Memorial t-shirts Posted by Picasa

    FDNY mourners Posted by Picasa

    Therapy dog Posted by Picasa

    We miss daddy Posted by Picasa

    Jake Posted by Picasa

    Roses on a spot where a steel beam stood Posted by Picasa

  • American Red Cross
  • Bright and Beautiful Therapy Dogs
  • Delta Society

  • Banner sitting

    July 10, 2005

    July 7 brought news about the terrorist attacks in London. July 8 brought an opportunity to send a message of support to the people of London. In response to the bombings, Art Aid decided to create a banner and have people sign it with messages of solidarity and sympathy. They asked for help with the project.

    “What is needed: several volunteers to take shifts throughout the day Saturday and Sunday to watch the banner, make sure it is not taken, and to explain to people (it will be obvious) … I may be pushing it, but I want to have a piece designed, printed, installed at Ground Zero over the weekend, and shipped to London on Monday. I think time is of the essence.”

    Four banners (one for each bomb) were produced and hung for signing at the site of the World Trade Center and I spent some time as a banner sitter.

    Banner Posted by Picasa

    Reaching up Posted by Picasa

    Tough Guys Posted by Picasa

    Red, white and blue Posted by Picasa

    Visiting from the Dominican Republic Posted by Picasa

    Close to the bottom Posted by Picasa

    Searching for the right words Posted by Picasa

    Teaching the next generation Posted by Picasa

    Fillling up Posted by Picasa

    Visiting from Birmingham, England Posted by Picasa

    Before locating the banner, I spoke to the Port Authority Police (who gave me a bottle of cold water) and entered St. Paul’s Church.

    I was relieved from my post by representative of the September 11th Families’ Association. After banner sitting for hours in the blazing sun, I cooled down with a tall cup of cold coffee and, thanks to a sympathic clerk at Century 21, a generous slathering of after-sun lotion.

  • ArtAID: Art in Service of Humanity
  • Port Authority Police
  • Poland Spring Water
  • Saint Paul’s Chapel
  • September 11th Families’ Association
  • Starbucks
  • Clarins After Sun Moisturizer
  • Century 21 Department Store

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