Memorial to the victims of the terror attacks of 9/11, New York City and Jersey City, USA
11.09.2006 - 11.09.2006 16 °C
This morning at a quarter to nine in the morning Eastern Daylight Time, I was on Air Canada flight 762, just touching down at Newark Airport. Exactly five years previous, American Airlines flight 11 was hitting the north tower of the World Trade Center in New York City, the first of four planes to be hijacked, and eventually leading to the destruction of the two World Trade Center towers, serious damage to the Pentagon and the loss of over 2,500 people in New York, Washington and Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
To commemorate those who lost their lives, New York City has, from time to time, created the Tribute In Light, a stunning art installation, using two beams of light stretching from the ground zero site into the night sky. The beams, if not a recreation, are at least a reflection of the Twin Towers. The beams are visible from quite a distance away, and I have been able to see them from my hotel for the past week.
I went down to the foot of Grand Street in Jersey City this evening to get a better view of the Tribute In Light. Grand Street at the Hudson River also happens to have Jersey City's 9/11 memorial - a twisted beam from the towers, often adorned with flags and messages. A number of people were at the bank of the Hudson, taking pictures or lighting candles or just talking with each other.
As I was wandering around taking my shots, I overheard a conversation of a group of fire fighters. The one fire fighter was speaking of one of their fallen breathen, how he used to tease him, after being shaken by a fire, that he just hadn't smoked enough cigarettes to calm his nerves. The three of them laughed and smiled at the memories.
After taking my shots, I wandered the 4 blocks back to where I had parked my car. It is a beautiful late summer or early fall night tonight, and it was a pleasant walk, cool without being cold, the air feeling and smelling and tasting clean and crisp. It was the kind of day that reminded me of my birthday or Halloween or Thanksgiving. It was the kind of day where you could imagine playing touch football or raking the leaves, the faint smell of smoke from someone's chimney wafting from a block away.
Thanksgiving was, and still is my favorite holiday, even though my mother died on that day. It's a day about family and food - Thanksgiving is Christmas without the pain of having to shop for presents in overcrowded malls. The weather is always nice, not too hot or not too cold, and my birthday is always just on the horizon, which always makes me happy (though perhaps a little less as I get closer to 40).
All that was going through my head as I was thinking about walking away from the Tribute In Light. Not sad thoughts of what was lost, but happy thoughts of hope. How I still love Thanksgiving and not hate it because of my mother's death. How the people of Hiroshima cheer for their baseball team and not think of the horror of the A-bomb. How three fire fighters laugh and smile at the memories of their friend, and not dwell on the way he died. How we all have the power to live through the bad events in our lives, and somehow take something positive from it.
As David Bowie said, "we can be heroes, just for one day..."