Kitsap Caucus

A blog about politics and government in Kitsap County as well as Washington state political news as it relates to Kitsap County.
Subscribe to RSS

Unsolicited Thoughts on 9/11

April 16th, 2011 by Chris Henry

Listening to reporter Steve Gardner conduct a phone interview last week for a story on the 9/11 memorial planned at Bremerton’s Evergreen Park reminded me of a visit I made to New York City about a month after the destruction of the World Trade Center.

Kitsap’s memorial to those who died in the terrorist attacks of September 11th will feature two steel beams from New York’s World Trade Center, pieces of stone from the Pentagon and some representation of the crash in Pennsylvania, said Dave Fergus of Rice Fergus Miller Architects. Fergus said he will have rough designs ready sometime in May. Organizers, who have raised about $80,000, hope to have the memorial completed groundbreaking on the memorial by this Sept. 11, the 10th anniversary of the attacks.

Visitors will be able to touch the beams. “There’s something very emotional about that that puts you in that place,” Fergus said. “As a visitor you become part of the memorial.”

In October, when we wrote about the Kitsap 9/11 Memorial Project committee’s plans for a site featuring wreckage from the WTC, a heated discussion ensued among readers about whether it is appropriate to display the beams. They seem to symbolize different things to different people: a sacred reminder of a nation united in grief, an ugly reminder of despicable acts or nothing at all.

Here, for what it’s worth, is what I think of when I look at the beams, as I have when they were on display at the Kitsap County Fair.

I grew up outside New York City, and often went back to visit my mom.

I brought my oldest son to visit Granny when he was 13 (1997). Passing through NYC, we visited the World Trade Center on a Sunday, when it was almost deserted. We ran through the empty, snaking barrier maze and took a dizzying elevator ride up one of the Twin Towers.

The windows on the observation level of the South Tower were canted out, so we had the sensation of hanging above the criss-cross of city streets. The yellow taxis below looked like Matchbox cars. Higher than an airplane on take-off, we could see the city’s bridges. To the east was Long Island (where I grew up), to the north, Southern Connecticut, where my mother lived in an assisted living center.

I made another visit to my mom in October, 2001, about a month after the terrorist attacks on New York, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania. I’ve never been fond of flying, but I felt, as did many, that carrying on with my travel plans was an act of defiance against other would-be terrorists and an act of solidarity with other Americans. As the plane descended over New Jersey farmland, we got a glimpse of the NYC skyline, and all one could think was, “My God, they’re really gone.”

I met up with my sister in Grand Central Station, where photos of the missing covered the hallways. Makeshift signs read, “Have you seen … “ “She was wearing … “ “Cantor Fitzgerald employee …” “Please call …”

We took a subway down to the lower end of Manhattan to view the wreckage. The first thing I noticed on stepping up into the street was bright sunlight and a gaping patch of sky where there should have been a canyon wall of buildings. The WTC site, more than 15 blocks away, was closed off with barriers guarded by police officers.

There were no strangers on the streets. Locals and out-of-towners alike gathered at the barrier, pulled by a morbid dread and something else, hard to put a finger on. It was far from a carnival atmosphere, but it wasn’t entirely somber. People chatted — where ‘ya from? — talked up the cop and snapped photos of the hole in the heart of the city. We were showing New York some love, and New Yorkers were tossing it right back.

We were together, mourning the dead, observing our nation’s monumental loss. We also were celebrating our strength. New York’s resilience was evident on city streets, where people walked (apparently) fearlessly, in the shops and cafes, where they ate and milled about as usual, and in the subway, where an elderly Chinese man played on a stringed instrument at rush hour, the music echoing sweetly in the cement cavern.

Here’s a picture of the Statue of Liberty, which was closed with the heightened security. The boardwalk where the ferry to the monument boards was another impromptu gathering place in the wake of 9/11. The statue seemed so far away, but as we stood watching the sun set, we struck up conversations with people we might never have otherwise.

Tags: , ,

Email This Post Email This Post Print This Post Print This Post

2 Responses to “Unsolicited Thoughts on 9/11”

  1. Emilie Says:

    Very nice thoughts. I remember when that huge truck brought those beams to the mall, the people waiting with such anticipation. I saw it online and on TV, but when they are ready in the park, I will go see them, photograph them, maybe not touch them.

    Some people could care less about such things, more’s the pity, but they are a symbol of the resilience and can-do attitude of Americans under siege.

    Emillie
    Port Orchard

  2. Jane_Rebelowski Says:

    Unfortunately the committee is set on a memorial for their “local heros” as they advertise in fundraisers. HONOR OUR LOCAL HEROS Fire/EMS-Law Enforcement-Military-911 Dispatchers. This proposed memorial has nothing to do with any civilian killed in the Twin Towers, Pennsylvania or the Pentagon. It is about glorifying certain professions and promoting war.

    Emilie you may find them as a “symbol of the resilience and can-do attitude of Americans Under siege”, There are many residents of Bremerton who believe this proposed memorial is something quite different.

Leave a Reply

Before you post, please complete the prompt below.

Enter the word yellow here:

Available on Kindle

Polls

If someone employed by an elected official then runs against that elected official, should the employee be fired?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

Primary Election

Politifact Truth-O-Meter

Kitsap Caucus Views since Jan. 4, 2013

Archives

About Kitsap Caucus

Kitsap Sun reporters blog about politics, government and other wonkisms of import to Kitsap County.

Kitsap Caucus

Promote Your Page Too