Monday, September 11, 2006

One Liberty Plaza, 9/11/2006

I lost no one.

Acquaintances of mine lost people, but I didn't, and neither did anyone close to me. Lucky, considering where I live and work.

Still, it was a year before I could bring myself to walk past the site. When circumstance would bring me to lower Manhattan, I'd find a way not to be near it.

Things change. Today I (again) work within blocks. If the dot-com where I worked hadn't gone belly-up some months before, I would have been working across the street when the planes hit, in One Liberty Plaza. As it was, I watched it all happen from the 29th floor of a midtown office building. The view was fine from there.

Today I walked over to the site on my lunch break, just to look at the empty space. Bells were tolling, a haunting sound I thought produced by the wonderful old churches down here. I stood across the street, and watched tourists and office workers stream past on the other side. Few seemed to actually look into the void, although a number held camera phones high, pointing down.

After getting my fill of emptiness, I decided to go over to the benches in the small park beside One Liberty, to read a little or maybe just reflect.

The bells, it turns out, were four church bells hanging from frames standing alongside the park. I think it was the New York Fire Department who set them up. Anyone who wanted could ring a bell, as many times as they wanted.

There were no lines, no one rushing forward or anything, but no bell stood un-rung for any time. One ringer would pull once, or twice, softer or harder, and another would step up, take the rope, and pull.

A group of college-aged kids wearing "Investigate 9/11" tee-shirts wandered around, talking to no one but each other. A few had the grace to look sheepish. Mostly they were quiet.

No one seemed visibly upset; no histrionics, no performances other than a pretty-much obligatory mime doing something incomprehensible for spare change. Individual demeanors ranged from laughing to meditative. I felt distinctly out-of place, because I was upset, and afraid I'd start crying. Even though.

I wonder now how many there felt as I did. How may did what I did, even though.

It took me five minutes before I was sure I would retain my composure, but I stepped up and pulled.


Anonymous M E-L said...

Thanks for ringing the bell -- for all of us.

7:35 AM  
Blogger WhatsAPundit said...

I hope they do the same next year. It was a beautiful way to remember the day.

11:39 AM  

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