Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Emotional. Magnificent. Proud.

I spent just about all of Sunday in Lower Manhattan, beginning with the 10th anniversary ceremonies at the World Trade Center. I met up with my friends Deborah and Joan and we went in together. We hooked up with some other 9/11 family members, and entered the site at Murray Street. Security was extremely tight, due to all the terrorist threats. We walked passed three security checkpoints.

Deborah made a beautiful collage of pictures of our friend Joyce, and all day the media kept coming up to us and asking about it. We talked to media outlets from all over New York and the world. The pictures were just so stunning, and it was simply amazing that every time we walked a few feet, someone would stop us and ask us about it, or just take pictures of it. (BTW, the photo above is Deborah, taken by the New York Daily News as she waited for Joan and I in front of St. Paul's Chapel, which had thousands of white ribbons on its gates in memory of the victims.)

The crowds at the site were enormous, as with the opening of the memorial would bring out many more family members. The reading of the names took much longer this year due to the fact the names of the victims from the Pentagon and Shanksville were also included. Politicians of course were there, but were limited to readings and no speeches.

We had to wait nearly an hour to get into Memorial Plaza itself, as the crush to get in was huge. But I simply amazed by how much had been done since last September 11. It was hard to believe I was in the same place. We walked along the plaza to the North Tower footprint, where Joyce's name was with her colleagues from her company. It was a really emotional moment to see her name there, and we left roses right next to it.

The waterfalls in the footprints of the towers are simply magnificent. Just an incredible sight to behold. (If you've seen them on TV, it doesn't do it justice.) I was really proud to have been in Memorial Plaza with the other victims' family members, and I have to say that it certainly was worth the wait to have gotten the memorial done right.

After we finished in the site, we went for lunch at SouthWestNY in the World Financial Center, which for years has offered a buffet for the families, which is such a kind gesture by their owners. We also went to the Tribute Center on Liberty Street and met a very nice serviceman named Brian, and we took him to the Family Room on Church Street, which is a place reserved for the families to leave mementos of their loved ones.

The day was winding down (or so I thought) when we encountered some bagpipers from the FDNY playing on Cedar Street, and that attracted a big crowd and was fun to watch. We then went into O'Hara's pub on the corner, and met a couple of firefighters from the Boston area (who were impressed I was a Red Sox fan). Together we went to another pub uptown, but the night ended shortly after that for me.

Couldn't help thinking of that old David Letterman line when I was heading home: "You're tired, but you know what, it's a good kind of tired." It was another long, emotional day, marking the decade that had passed since the worst day in our country's history.

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