I admit it. I have not spent the ninth anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001, tuning in to the 24/7 news cycle, which – and I know this just by mere channel surfing – seemed to feature loop after loop of the planes crashing into the buildings and the subsequent terror that surely shattered the hearts of many in Manhattan and Washington and Pennsylvania, and nay, the entire nation.
Today, I have mainly watched college football and read a book on the historicity of Jesus of Nazareth (highly recommended, by the way).
But between my various enterprises this Saturday, I have thought about that day and about what it means to me. I have thought about the many volunteers who gave of their time, and some of their very livelihood, the latter of which (some) suffer from incurable diseases, such as lung damage from those who inhaled various toxins on that day and in clean-up efforts.
I have thought of the regular folks on the street who witnessed the planes crashing into the buildings, and then found themselves encased in chaos and dust. I thought of the 9/11 Truth crowd who claim, with pomposity, that the whole thing was rigged from the start, by our own government, or at the very least, our government under George W. Bush was privy to such tidings.
And I have thought about my own excursions to New York, “the concrete jungle where dreams are made of,” as the popular Alicia Keys/Jay-Z tune goes. I live in the Southeast now but once lived in Manhattan as an infant. But since that time, I have been to the city many times. And once, I was able to go to the very top of one of the Twin Towers and looked out over the city from that phantasmal height, and I was in awe. This is an experience for which I am thankful to have been given. The view is still fertile in my mind. There, across the rail. Through the tall, shiny glass windows. Soaring and a little nearer to sky and clouds than to Earth.
And now, probably some 15 years or more since I was there, that heralded skyline is no more. I don’t need the news stations to tell me how grave and important Sept. 11, 2001, really is to all of us who love the city. I felt the thud, an intense thud, like everyone else. My “thud,” perhaps, wasn’t quite as booming as that of, say, a Mets or Yankees or Giants or Rangers fan, but it was a real thud, but not awe, as Bush later proclaimed about Iraq. For, with war, there is no “awe,” just shock and death, and “awe” is a quite macabre way to describe war.
So, tonight, now 15 minutes into Sept. 12, I am reminded of two songs, one my Ryan Adams titled, “New York, New York” (which was shot, interestingly, only four days prior to the tragedy on Sept. 7, 2001) and one more poignantly directed at the 9/11 tragedy, The Beastie Boys’ “An Open Letter to NYC.”
Here is the video:
[Photo caption: Credit: Chang W. Lee/The New York Times; Family members of 9/11 victims at the reflecting pool during the ceremony in New York.]