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We Remember

By Phantom On September 11th, 2018

Those of us affected by 9/11 all have our rituals.

My good friend Hon comes into the city at each anniversary, pays his respects, then walks across the Manhattan Bridge to Brooklyn. He did that in 2001. He’ll do it every year.

Others take the day off and stay home, to reflect.

Most years, including this one, I come into work, close by the site, keeping to a perhaps defiant, normal, routine.

But I remember, as we all do.

For years after 9/11, the Trade Center site was blocked off. It’s been reopened for some time now. Massive new skyscrapers now stand where the Twin Towers had been.

Tonight, I’ll walk past those new towers, past the reflecting pools. And I’ll remember the fine people that we have have lost.

24 Responses to “We Remember”

  1. Just now posted over at Pat’s ‘we wait to embrace you in the arms of death’ post:

    Paul McMahon, on September 11th, 2018 at 7:11 PM Said:

    I was lookin around Facebook there and I came across this from naturalised American, Irishman and singer / guitarist of Black 47 Larry Kirwan. I thought it a much more astute, gracious comment on today than the coarse, fake gung hoery we see above:

    The priest and the fireman

    Anyone knocking around Manhattan in those days knew people who perished, but for me it all comes back to the priest and the fireman.

    Even seventeen years later I can look offstage and imagine where each would be – Father Michael Judge standing by the bar, impeccably coiffed, surrounded by friends; and Richie Muldowney NYFD, darting around the room bantering with all and sundry, crooked smile lighting up the joint.

    Though both frozen in time they summon up the city as it used to be. For New York changed ineffably on 9/11when the spirits of so many unique people departed. They’ve been replaced, of course, great cities do that, but it’s not quite the same, is it?

    I often thought of Mychal as a mirror, he was so empathetic he seemed to reflect your own hopes and fears. I never knew anyone who helped so many people; he was always concerned, forever providing a shoulder.

    I guess he came to see Black 47 to let off a little steam. I’m not even sure he liked our music – his own taste ran towards the more conventional – but the rhythms, juxtapositions and overall message fascinated him and, anyway, he liked to be in the thick of the action.

    Richie was hard-core Black 47. He knew all the words, the players, the other fans. He delighted to show up unexpectedly at out-of-town gigs; the moment you saw him you knew it would be a good night. To think such an irrepressible spark was extinguished so early.

    I remember jaywalking across Times Square the first September Saturday the band returned to Connolly’s. The “crossroads of the world” was so deserted in those immediate post-9/11 nights it felt like a scene from a cowboy movie where sagebrush is blowing down the street.

    But cops, firemen, emergency workers, the mad, the innocent and those who just couldn’t stay at home needed somewhere to go – to let the pressure off – and that was the band’s function.

    Those first gigs were searing. You couldn’t be certain who was missing, who had survived, who was on vacation, who just needed a break from it all. When a familiar face walked through the door the relief was palpable, someone else had made it.

    The atmosphere – though on the surface subdued – was charged with an underlying manic energy, a need to commemorate, celebrate, to show that life was going on. That would be some small revenge on the bastards who had caused all the heartbreak.

    And yet, what an opportunity was missed in those first weeks. That smoldering pit down on Rector Street had galvanized the country. We were all so united; we would have done anything asked of us.

    Republican, Democrat, Independent, we all came together as Americans. We would have reduced our dependence on foreign oil, rejuvenated poor neighborhoods, taught classes in disadvantaged schools. You name it – nothing would have been too big, too small either.

    But no sacrifice was asked, much less demanded. Instead, 9/11 was used by cheap politicians to get re-elected; patriotism was swept aside by an unrelenting xenophobic nationalism that brooked no dissent. The US was converted into a fortress and the lights were dimmed in the once shining city on the hill. Worst of all, our leaders sought to use the tragedy as an excuse to invade Iraq.

    Look at us now, dysfunctional, walled off from each other and the rest of the world. That began when the national will for a positive response was squandered in the aftermath of 9/11.

    Though he was finally hunted down, sometimes it seems as though Osama Bin Laden won, for we’ve become a fearful, partisan people, unsure of ourselves, uncertain of our future.

    But then I think of Mychal and Richie, their smiles beam across the years and I know that the current national malaise is just a patina that covers the soul of the country – it can be wiped away. It’s not permanent. We have greatness in us yet.

    That’s the hard-earned lesson of 9/11 and will always be the message of the priest and the fireman.

  2. Lovely words, Phantom and Paul.

    An Irish-American friend of mine refuses to read the Sunday Independent after their disgraceful muck-raking stories about the great Fr Judge.

  3. Father Judge was a great man. The first recorded casualty that day

    https://www.npr.org/2011/09/05/140154885/memories-of-sept-11s-first-casualty-burn-bright

  4. Phantom and Paul.

    Heartfelt and we’ll written posts guys. Thank you.

    So many inocent people lost their lives on 9/11 it’s hard to comprehend.
    But a great many more people lost the ones they love forever, without a chance to say goodbye. And that must be extremely hard to live with.

  5. I’m just doing a bit more in depth reading around Father Mychal Judge here. Wow!! what an unbelievable human being. Many considered Fr Judge to be a living saint, from reading about him here that doesn’t seem like an exaggeration.

    By all accounts a truly exceptional Christian man.

  6. Finally, a memorial post worth waiting for.

    Great comments and links from Phantom and Paul. Fr. Judge was truly inspirational.

    And those words of Larry Kirwan really say something. It’s easy for someone looking at the current mess from afar to forget about that great American spirit he describes, but it existed then and will hopefully exist forever.

  7. I saw Black 47, back then at the old Harbour Lights restaurant on Pier 17

  8. some moving accounts there, thank you for sharing
    what unites us is stronger than what divides us

  9. good words

  10. Today we also remember 4 American heroes who died in Benghazi on 9/11/2012: Chris Stevens, Sean Smith, Ty Woods, and Glen Doherty.

  11. I remember.

  12. Good one Phantom. Meaningful, heartfelt and appropriate.
    I was at my oldest son’s soccer practice tonight (age 10). The grandmother of one of the boys told me her son in law has a few weeks left. He got cancer from working on the rescue/clean up from the debris after 9/11. Talk about ripple effects.

  13. they estimate 9000 people got cancer from the debris, I believe 1700 have already passed.

  14. At lunchtime, I walked through Zucotti Park ( right outside the WTC ), and observed a lone man, a civilian, standing at attention, facing the Trade Center. I walked by 30 minutes later, and he was still there, at attention.

  15. That is John Lennon and Yoko Ono, looking at Manhattan from the back of a Staten Island ferry boat traveling in the Manhattan to Staten Island direction.

    The twin towers are still under construction, so my guess is that this photo was taken in 1972 or thereabouts

  16. Cool, I didn’t focus on photo but it is clearly them. Always got a kick out of how he choose NYC of all the places to live.

  17. I still see that image in my head every day going to and from work. I’m still somewhat taken aback at the new skyline. I went as close as I could to the WTC yesterday…a few blocks away. Tough day.

  18. hmmmm, to clarify…not of John and Yoko…of the towers…

  19. The new WTC towers are a bit antiseptic, and will take some getting used to.

    Enormous new residential and commercial construction around lower Manhattan, which isn’t finished by a long shot. A new, larger financial district has emerged.

  20. Yup…we came back bigger and stronger. Not a big fan of the oculus either…too shiny and white/people look robotic in there…same with the new subway station. You need sunglasses to look at it. Antiseptic is a good word for it.

  21. As respects the oculus

    https://www.archdaily.com/901840/world-trade-center-transportation-hub-oculus-designed-in-remembrance-of-9-11

    I think that the interior is very beautiful in person. The first time people see it, it takes their breath away

    It was way way too expensive though an example of all that is wrong with NY/NJ/US governmental decision making and inability to get anything done right

    That kind of money could have been used for something more practical ( for example, punching a tunnel to extend the PATH train tracks to Brooklyn, which could have been hugely useful for the region ), instead we got super expensive building with expensive shops inside.

  22. And now a 9/11 salute from our Liberal academia:

    https://www.weaselzippers.us/396594-wisconsin-college-frowns-on-9-11-memorial-project-over-fears-it-could-offend-muslims/

  23. A dignified, respectful and thoughtful post and comments about the WTC horror.

    And then the intellectual collosus Eddie weighs in with ‘yeah, but what about those damn pinkos?’

    Did you even read the original report?

    http://www.foxnews.com/us/2018/09/05/college-officials-rule-911-never-forget-memorial-biased-against-muslims.html

    A Conservative student group is complaining that another student group thinks their ‘never forget’ poster, (where one WTC image is given equal status to seven other images, which all happened after the WTC attack), is biased.

    Congratulations Eddie, you got the rise you wanted. I just hope you’re happy with the fact that you had to shit all over the appropriately dignified comments of memorium of almost 3,000 murdered in order to get it.

  24. Enormous new residential and commercial construction around lower Manhattan, which isn’t finished by a long shot. A new, larger financial district has emerged.

    It’s just as well that those old, obsolete and expensive WTCs were demolished

    A dignified, respectful and thoughtful post and comments about the WTC horror.

    Not really – just a series of maudlin comments

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