Saturday, September 11, 2004

Out of Retirement For 9/11

In spite of my retirement from blogging, I've decided to keep a tradition of posting the events and times of September 11th, 2001, though next year it will likely be done from a blogspot site. For those who are interested, I'm currently pursuing a doctorate in economics and money is scarce, being a student and all. Time is likewise precious and once I've either unceremoniously failed, or succeeded to a point of comfort, I'll probably resume blogging at the blogspot link above. Think next summerish.

On 9/11: it still moves me. My anger toward terrorists is undiminished and I remember the day quite well. On the first anniversary of the attacks, I was working in Connecticut and made the train ride to NYC to see Ground Zero for myself. The thing that still sticks out in my mind is getting off the train at Grand Central Station and seeing posters in place, still, that were of people looking for their loved ones. It's the first thing I saw. Certainly they had given up hope by then but the administrators of GCS saw fit to leave them in place. There was also a picture of Daniel Pearl with the words "Murdered by Terrorists" written in black ink underneath. How true.

Rather than do a long write-up on my feelings again, I'll reproduce part of the post from 2002 here:

I actually got to visit Ground Zero this weekend and was struck as soon as I entered Grand Central Station with a board that had been put up for people to display pictures of their loved ones along with contact information if they should be found. Obviously it could have been taken down months ago since all of the debris has been removed and even a couple of weeks after the incident there is almost no likelihood they could still be alive. Yet the people of GCS have allowed the board to stay up in honor of the victims.

I did notice a couple of people had been found shortly after 9/11 and there was a picture of Daniel Pearl, the famous picture of him sitting and holding a newspaper. The writing underneath said "Murdered By Terrorists". That fits with my perception of your average New Yorker - not ones to split hairs.

It reminds me also of the firefighters surrounding President Bush at Ground Zero when he said we would go after the people that knocked the buildings down. The firefighters didn't react by saying "we need to understand the terrorists's motives" or any other such nonsense. They cheered. They understood instinctively that an attack can't go unanswered or it invites more attacks.

The visit to Ground Zero itself was anti-climactic. While it is hallowed ground it's also a hole in the ground now. The debris and remains of those lost and still unaccounted for are being sorted and tested against DNA samples at another location.

I visited the ad hoc memorial constructed by dozens of visitors on the steel fence surrounding St. Paul's Chapel and Cemetary. This is where I spent the most time. I scoured every inch of that fence, all four sides. I was touched that so many people, from grade-schoolers to a group of bikers riding cross country, had left mementos of various sorts. Some were t-shirts draped on the fence and others were pictures with dozens of signatures wishing everyone well. I didn't even mind the street vendors that surrounded the chapel. I even bought a couple of pictures.

While I was walking around St. Paul's I could hear the subway, just recently restored, running beneath the grates reminding me that piece-by-piece we would continue forward. I took a couple more pictures and caught a cab back to Grand Central Station.

On the train I met a guy named Trevor going from 125th Street to White Plains so our talk was brief. He gave me some tips on touring New York City -- take the Staten Island Ferry round trip from Manhattan because the view is beautiful and it's free -- and he came across as a person who loves his city. In that short conversation he conveyed a little bit of New York to me and I understood why people love to live there. I was glad I had a chance to meet him.

I now return to my semi-retirement from blogging and dogged pursuit of a doctorate in economics. I have a lot of work in front of me, but if 9/11 taught us survivors anything I would hope that it's to pursue our dreams. Life's too short for anything less.

Comments are open but moderated, if anybody reads this post. I'll be at the library most of the day so it may be into the evening before comments start showing up. Maybe I'll see you next summer.

4th Attack Thwarted (Three-Year Anniversary)

10:37am Eastern Time: Flight 93 crashes into a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

North Tower Falls (Three-Year Anniversary)

10:29am Eastern Time: North Tower of the World Trade Center collapses.

South Tower Falls (Three-Year Anniversary)

9:59am Eastern Time: South Tower of the World Trade Center collapses.

3rd Attack (Three-Year Anniversary)

9:40am Eastern Time: Flight 77 crashes into the West side of the Pentagon.

2nd Attack (Three-Year Anniversary)

9:03am Eastern Time: Flight 175 crashes into the South Tower of the World Trade Center.

1st Attack (Three-Year Anniversary)

8:46am Eastern Time: Flight 11 crashes into the North Tower of the World Trade Center.