Thursday, July 14, 2011

Sorrow, Solace & Strength

When Richard Sheirer heard something was going on at the World Trade Center he placed a call to Building 7. Moments later he was standing inside Tower 1, speaking with two friends he would never see again. Later that day his wife would only know he was okay because she could see the green and white pinstripes of his shirt sleeve on TV. Today the former Commissioner of the Office of Emergency Management paid us a visit to share his thoughts.

'This is going to be so incredibly powerful,' he said, holding a page of the etched stainless steel Book of Names in his hands. 'New York never sleeps, you know? People are going to be looking at this twenty-four-seven.' We thought back to our midnight visit to the Oklahoma City Memorial; as people go there to grieve and to reflect, so too, perhaps, will some here also find solace in dark hours.

Ten years ago Susan Liscovicz was working as a financial news reporter for CNN; her beat often taking her to the New York Stock Exchange. 'As soon as we could, after that day, we all had to go back to work,' she told us as she gazed out over Manhattan from the roof of a parking garage in Hoboken, New Jersey. 'The sound of that bell, eerie as it sounded, said that America was still alive and working.'

Down near the ferry terminal Todd Kinney took a moment to recount the twist of his own fate and the sadness that would soon follow. 'I was working on Wall Street at the time but on September 10th I'd gone down to Richmond. I couldn't fly back, so I rented a car. I knew I wanted to get back up here as soon as I could.' The rush hour crowd emerged from the PATH station in waves, flooding the sidewalks around Hudson Street. 'For weeks,' Todd said, 'it was funeral after funeral.'

It was ten o'clock at night tonight when Jon pulled into the parking lot between Johnny's bar in Boonton, New Jersey and the town's Volunteer Fire Department. 'We're getting our trucks ready for the parade,' said one of the dozen or so firefighters milling around in front of their station. One of them then pointed at Jon's truck. 'So by the way what's that thing?' And for the next twenty minutes they all took pictures, rolled up a company t-shirt and wrestled it into the hole in the cross's side, and then invited us to come on by the carnival on Saturday. 'Give this guy a call,' Ed Bohon told me as he scribbled a name and number on a business card. 'He's the organizer of the whole thing, maybe he'll get you guys into the parade.'

America, indeed, is very much alive and kicking.