Sunday, April 02, 2006

9/11 Still Very Close

This past week the city released 9/11 tapes. The newspapers and TV are all about it. I haven't sought to listen or look to read transcripts of the calls. Yet the other night, a news clip came on TV with my buddy's buddy, Chris Hanley. His parents released the entire tape with Chris' side of the call to the NY Times. Here on the tube, Chris was speaking clearly and calmly from the 106th floor with a 911 Operator. Years ago, Chris worked with Bloomberg and when I was job hunting he graciously showed me around and hooked me up with the right person to see for an interview. Our family prayers to Chris & his family.

The following morning on my way to work, I bumped into Evan. Evan & I worked together in my company's Weehawken, NJ office at that time. It's been more than 4 years since I've seen him because I moved into one of the NYC offices shortly afterward and he had since left the company.

Like almost everyone in the company that morning we were watching the events unfold across the river. In addition to that - early - phones were ringing and rumors were flying all about. I called my wife to tell her to check out CNN, a plane had hit the WTC. No one knew what was really happening. Until some saw the second plane hit the WTC. Some shouted, some cried but they were in agreement "Terrorist attack." So early in the day, did they know they were right?

By 10AM it was impossible to call into the city, or even get a free line to use. The city was evacuating. No one in, and the river was full of boats helping to evacuate people from the city.

Evan and I rode the elevator down together, we were going to watch from the promenade along the river. He was telling me that he just spoke with his wife. She called from the subway station beneath the WTC and that the lines for the phones were very long wait and that the trains were not running regularly.

We reached outside and we began to cross the street for the esplanade. Then right before our eyes the second Tower fell. Evan screamed, "My wife!" Again, people were in disbelief. Sobs, cries, shouts - it was literally crazy and we were watching this from a distance. One could not help but think that there are people there. It turned out that Evan's wife had caught the last train out of there and was safe.

And last night, 1 April 2006, Charlie, Kin, Ben and I observed a Grazing/Occultation event on Staten Island. As we approached Staten Island slip, Kin pointed out the 9/11 Memorial. It wasn't planned but we ended setting up our gear there. From this spot, one looks across the water to see all of Manhattan, especially lower Manhattan shore and skyscrapers. A plague on the rail describes how lower Manhattan skyline has changed over time, including reference to the WTC. It finishes stating that Staten Islanders suffered greatly by the event.

As I read the plaque, behind me stands two large curved walls that represent postcards each with a curved corner that opens towards Manhattan. These postcards memorialize the victims of 9/11. Though described as the wings of a dove, I am struck by impression of the tail fin of a plane when walking up to it. Along the inside of these walls are the profiles and name plates of the 270 Staten Island 9/11 victims cut into granite. The profiles appear actual where one can recognize unique characteristics like hairline, nose, moustache, etc. There are some place holders that I assume are waiting to be completed at later date.

9/11 is still very close and won't slip away into history anytime soon.

-- peter