Thursday, June 23, 2011

In The Interim

Installation of the Cross in New York City is still a few weeks away (rumor has it July 23rd has been targeted and penciled in), but preparations for this final leg of the journey continue across three continents.

Jason Smith, Director & Executive Producer of the yet-to-be-named documentary of the pilgrimage, has been slicing and splicing away in England, editing the hours upon hours of film from the first weeks of the journey. The task is daunting for all the fantastic people we've met and all the beautiful places we've seen; across the pond and over on the far side of the continent Claire Dallison of Los Angeles has been busy pitching in, adding her editing expertise to the mix. Jason is also plying his extensive professional network, lining up a few surprises for the days leading up to the installation - stay tuned to see what he pulls out of his, camera bag.

Meanwhile Jon is sweating it out in Boonton, New Jersey, working the cross into its final form and shimmer. He also reports an extremely fortuitous encounter: Les Dunham, aka the Master Car Builder, recently met with Jon to add his metal working expertise to the project. Mr. Dunham built the "Corvorado", the car used in the James Bond movie "Live and Let Die", as well as the additional car culture icons featured here. 'He gave me some secrets that have made all the difference,' Jon says. 'His help has been instrumental' during these final stages of preparation.

Finally, yours truly is back in Fukushima, Japan trying to keep abreast of developments both at home and abroad while working on moving the family to the States. For all of us, life as of late has been quite an adventure.

Be sure to check out the latest newspaper and online articles in the 'In The News' section of this blog, and if you haven't yet done so, please let your friends know about Jon and the Journey - both in the stories related here and in the photos on the St. Peter 9-11 Cross facebook page. And keep checking back for news on the installation, sure to be an emotional, historical, incredible event.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

To the Places Where Things Changed Forever

The Somerset Milling Company building, white and clean and standing proud along Stoystown Road, seems decades removed from the Pennsylvania Toll Pike. Further down, past the Somerset County Airport, through the sleepy town of Friedens and toward Indian Lake the gentility of yesteryear plays hide and seek with passersby. A white trailer stands in the tall grass, ‘Funnel Cakes’ in red carnival script across the side. A small hand-painted sign pokes out of the weeds around a bend: Maple Syrup. Rivers amble free of concrete diversion. Signs of innocent times persist all the way to Shanksville and the crash site of United Flight 93.
In the beginning there were no fences, no signs, no information pamphlets. 

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Memorializing the Past, Mulling Over the Future

At St. Thomas the Apostle School
‘Some guy gave me this business card at some trade show,’ Jon said, holding the small rectangle of gold metal up to the light. ‘I didn’t think I’d ever need it but for some reason I held onto it.’

Three years later Jon dug it out of a drawer and called the number etched in the corner.
In addition to the cross, Jon’s memorial sculpture will include a Book of Names, stainless steel pages etched with an alphabetical list of the 2,997 people lost on September 11th. This book will be attached to the base on which the cross will soon stand. It is being made in Elkhart, Indiana.
We said our journey was evolving; this was just a gentler way of saying we couldn’t stick to a schedule if our very lives depended on it.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Life of the Journey

Hawthorne Community Center
The Shell gas station in Dickson, Tennessee probably wouldn't stand out in anyone's memories of a drive across the country. Neither would the adjacent 'Sudden Service' quickie mart (unless of course you happen to notice the walk-in cooler in the back, glass door luring you in with its decal letter message: Welcome to the Beer Cave). Few if any of the dozens of highway interchange stops we'd made would end up being burnished into memory, really, except for one thing: the people we met.

Roberta, one of the Sudden Service clerks, kept the line of customers inside waiting as she lingered outside next to the truck. 'I"m serious, you guys...this is amazing...' Her Boston accent dripped with sincere emotion and morning humidity. 'How absolutely beautiful...' She dropped a note in and stood still for a moment before climbing back down off the truck. 'Well this is an honor...being a part of this...' She might have remained there on the oily cement all day if her eyes hadn't started tearing up. 'You guys...take care of yourselves...'