First I hope all will take a moment of silence to reflect upon the lives lost on 9/11 at the Pentagon, the World Trade Centers, and on the flights used in these horriific attacks.
I did not personally know anyone who died in the attacks, but friends of friends were killed. I live in NYC, but in upper Manhattan near the northern tip. But for me, no part of the city was untouched, and I mean all five boroughs as well as Long Island, where many of the fire fighters and police have/had their homes. The regions around New York City, New Jersey, Connecticut, and even Philadellphia were affected. Of course the downtown area was absolutely devastated. Everything from luxury to modest apartments were rendered unlivable within minutes. People's businesses were destroyed, everything from brokerage firms to delicatessens.
It has been reported that approximately 10,000 children were left without one or both parents on 9/11.
I have no words to describe my own feelings. What I can describe are the associations I feek with the WTC. BTW, I don't mean to give any less attention to the tragedy at the Pentagon. Lving in NYC, naturally the WTC is what I relate to most. I can say is that every time I'm in a position to see the New York skyline from a distance, the absence of the World Trade Center Towers looms larger in spirit then they were even in life. Those buildings, like all buildings, are filled with life. The life burned and crshed out of those buildings always reminds me that no matter what the structure or where, it's life that gives those buildings density. Without the people who work or live in such buildings, they are mostly air--from the air in the offices to the air between the molecules in the steel.
Many people did not like the WTC when it was first completed in 1974. For many, the twin towers were just another shadown caster. For those of you who were not able to see the Ric Burns documentary on the WTC that was on PBS the other night, I'd like to recount the story of Philippe Petite, performance artist/tightrope walker. But in 1978, IIRC, Frenchman Phillipe Petite and his assistants used a bow and arrow to rig a tightrope that ran between the roofs of the twin towers, 1000 feet above the concrete below. That early morning, Petite walked and danced, literally danced, back and forth across the tightrope for 45 minutes. Petite says it was the most glorious and memorable time of his life. He said he could hear the cheers of the crowds below, which inspired him more. When the police came, Petite danced around for a while then lay down on his back on the tightrope. He said he saw a seagull flying far above him. Because of the adrenaline, his senses were so heightened that Petite says he could see the red eye of the bird. Petite got the feeling that the bird was looking at him, wondering what this guy was doing in his, the seagull's, space. Petite says that at this time, after having what he calls some kind of communication with the seagull, that all his instincts and intuition told him it was time to get down. Petite didn't want to; he says he could have stayed up there all day. But he felt as if the forces of nature had allowed him entrance into a place where men are not meant to go--high in the sky with nothing but a rope to support him--and that these forces were telling him it was time for things to go back to normal. Petite walked off the rope, to the police, and was charged with something like 30 misdeamenors, including performing without a license. But what Petite did was make the WTC towers a true part of New York. They were part of the family now.
The story of Philippe Petite is a part of NYC folklore and I tell it only in that context. Those I think who are the real story of the tragedy of 9/11 are the firefighters; the police; those who worked at the WTC, from the window washers to the office workers; and their families. The same goes for those at the Pentagon and on the planes and their families, especially the incredible courage of those passengers on United Flight 11, if I'm correct, who gave their lives to attack the hijackers and prevent them from completing their mission, which we now know was to crash the plane into the White House. Instead they went after the hijackers witht tiny airline forks and knives and all the heart and courage in the world. The wrestled control of the plane away from the hijackers but in doing so also wrestled it into a crash in a Pennsylvania field. Some hundred feet further and they would have hit homes. Instead the plane hit the ground with such velocity that all that was left was a deep burnt scar on the green bucolic field.
The day after the attacks, a friend I've known since college who had lived in NY called me from her new home in Illinois. She and her sister would be coming to NYC to help their cousin, who was having an especially hard time because he has post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result of his time serving in Viet Nam. My friend, Martha, was both grieving and furious. "They're f**k*** with my city!" she said. My sentiments exactly.
Please forgive what I'm sure are multiple typos and screwed up words. Water distorts the look of the type. My form of prayer to all involved directly or indirectly in every aspect of the 9/11 attack.