Sunday, January 18, 2009

Ground Zero No More

As the Wife, Kids and I approached Liberty St. in the Financial District of Lower Manhattan, we were taken aback by the construction cranes, fences and workers. We knew why we went to this location but did not have any expectations. This is where the twin towers of the World Trade Center stood.

The new foot print was just about complete with upwards progress nearing street level. There was still a great deal of work to be done, and the promise of something new going in its place was immanent. Then, there was the visitors center. With Ladder Station 39 next to it. It ALL came rushing back in my spine and an instant feeling of horror. I was terrified. I instantly remembered that fateful moment.

FLASHBCAK! I got a phone call at 5:35 am in California on September 11, 2001. I was getting ready to teach an Emergency Response class for the City of Escondido and Sheila was on the phone asking, if I had seen the news about an airplane crashing into Tower 1 of the World Trade Center. Then two minutes later, I saw the other airplane slam into Tower 2. Did my Uncle get out? What about all those people above the crash areas? Should I teach class? How am I going to get home? What about all those people? The towers fell..... What about all those people? What about the Emergency Responders. I literally did not know what to do.

Flights were cancelled. Rental cars were scarce.

FLASHBACK! I was standing in front of the memorial. There were 2752 names enblazed on the tablet in front of me. I was absorbed in overwhelming sorrow. Sobbing with Sheila and my kids, I was just so happy for what I had. And I still could not answer one question. What would I do if I lost either one of my family members? I could not stand it at all. In the room where the names were listed, one of the twisted bits of metal from Tower 1 was encased in a glass box with pictures of the old standing tower behind it. Next to that room was a wall that resembeled the walls with missing people was a wall that never ended. I saw a name on the memorial, then I saw the missing person picture that the family must of put together on their home computer. Al Claxo was his name. It was at this moment that I had moved from sorrow to just pure anger.

FLASHBACK! I was on my way home in a Lincoln Navigator. I had to drive from San Diego to Phoenix because all the flights were cancelled. Once I got home I hugged both my kids and my wife. I got news that my uncle was okay and he got away from the tumbling wreckage. I shook my head and was in complete awe, and wondered who could have done this? Was it the same group that tried to take it down in 1993? It was! Osama Bin Laden and Al Queda....Anger Anger

FLASHBACK! I walked out of the memorial and saw the Ladder Station that belonged to Ladder 39 of the FDNY. No more anger, now I fealt releaved that there were men and women that walked up many flights of stairs, that tried to evacuate most people, that followed some emergency plan...that did so much to uplift the spirits of all that needed help. I fealt that these people will always be remembered as Heros! It was at this point I walked by a construction fence that had a hole in it and I saw Ground Zero, where the towers once stood. There was new construction there and an explanation of what to expect.

I was happy to see that the pools with silent water falls were going into the foot prints of the old towers. Then, it was at this point......I thought, This is Ground Zero No More, but the New World Trade Center.

It was Ironic. Two blocks away, the US Airways flight 1549 where ALL the passengers survived, and I happened to get pictures of the wreckage, was being rigged and preped for transportation to a marina across the Hudson. The Irony reminds me of a statement that George W. Bush said, "You can knock our buildings down, and we can rebuild, but you cannot knock our resolve down." This was evident in the air around the construction site once referred to as Ground Zero. More importantly, it has shown me how resiliant we are as Americans. Like the pilot that guided that plane to safety and allowing everyone to survive.

I have learned so much growing up, but it is these last 9-10 years where I have learned the most. Since 9-11 we have stood up to tyrany, we have rebuilt, we have elected a black president, we have failed, we have prospered, but we never say, we are still at Ground Zero. We knew the level of destruction, but what we knew more of is how much more we are capable of, in others words, it is the Phoenix that makes me think this deaply. Out of the Ashes comes something newer, and yes there will be a memorial, but 9-11 will still be remembered, and something new will be in its place. IT WILL BE GOUND ZERO NO MORE!

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