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

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