Today we commemorate the Eleventh Nine Eleven, and in so doing, we deem it appropriate and would like to share the following here as a tribute to that event and to those who left this plane, as well as those who remained here to bear witness to these departures.
Having partaken briefly in the effort at this hallowed site, and having felt the energy there one day, an essay was prepared describing that experience entitled, “ode to nine eleven.”
In homage to that sacred site and to the souls who bravely made that event their passage, a few short excerpts from that piece are included here to offer a glimpse of the moment and the aura in describing what it was like to participate in a slice of that historical and spiritual event:
“today, i worked as a volunteer at the main crash site – ground zero – in the belly of the beast, at the world trade center in new york city. in order to reach this site, i had to walk over the brooklyn bridge and for several miles in total to get there, and back, because the subway trains are not working as usual. the weather was dry and very hot, but as soon as i touched the manhattan side of the bridge, the permeating smell of smoke and the swirling dust in the air was immediately evident.
“this trip was marked by the sight of scores of policeman, military and emergency personnel guarding the streets and blocking access to a large area from the southern tip of manhattan upwards about ten or more blocks. once inside that perimeter it was like a ghost town, but more like a mirage or a dream sequence. this feeling was all the more so because i had been quite used to being right there, for decades of my life, with thousands and thousands of people at a time casually walking around, all with no hint of such change to come. under normal circumstances, it is immaculately clean and well kept around there. today it is barren and eerie and it is literally cluttered with tons of paper, dust and ashes strewn everywhere, on everything around you and circling in the air still. it is a soft, white, powdered dust, almost like talcum, which is actually disintegrated concrete and glass, heated and burnt and compressed to ashes.
“here and there in this zone people are wearing white surgical masks as they go about their respective duties. some official personnel are actually wearing gas masks because the proliferation of dust and debris is still so great, especially at the actual crash site, that it is unbearable without one if you should remain there for any length of time. goggles are also very prevalent as well because if this stuff should get in your eyes, it is really quite uncomfortable and potentially dangerous.
“after walking all the way into the site, and upon reaching the actual wreckage, it is quite unreal. in fact, it literally reminds one of a movie set where such simulated catastrophes are artificially created. yet the smoke from the smoldering debris and the very real dust in the air are an immediate reminder that this scene is very, very real and that lower manhattan is not the same. once inside the work zone, i stayed with the crews, helping with the removal of small debris. i handed out bottles of water and face masks, pulled hoses and did anything else i could do to assist in the effort….
“i showered, twice, and i ate a full meal, but i will never forget what i saw and felt, working, helping, watching and crying there with grown adults of all kinds and looking at life in a very different way both there, and then on the way home, too. lower manhattan will never be the same. our country will never be the same. this planet cannot now ever be the same, and we will no longer be the same as its inhabitants.
“at another level, however, this is humanity talking back to itself, urging us to wake up and to listen. this is the darker side of human nature which unfortunately keeps on rearing its ugly head as it did in rome, china, auschwitz, hiroshima and nagasaki, russia, vietnam, our civil war, the europe of the middle ages and since the dawn of man as we know him. and this is unacceptable and reflects the innate savagery of humankind. yet events like this are not spontaneous, but are more the culmination of decades of tension and hatred and disagreements. these things brew and are bred, they do not arise overnight. they are calculated and planned and take tremendous effort and resources for the benefit of hate – and we always hate the things we love, but can’t…..
“so as i walked those familiar streets on my way to work on this unfamiliar day in the role of a construction laborer, instead, i am pointedly reminded, too, that i went to work for years through these same streets wearing a suit and tie, on the subways, working for the benefit of others, in the law. but today, i walked those dank and dusty streets recalling the summers of my college years working hard in construction, then, too. today, however, i felt as though i belonged there nonetheless, for it was a day of work i could not miss. i wore a hard hat and boots and sweated through the pain and the duty because i had to. there just was no choice involved today…..
“this is modern day warfare and this is the preferred reaction for the modern day psyche – and this is my ode to nine eleven.
“ashes to ashes, dust to dust. with tears in my eyes, all i can say for now is deliver us from this evil, amen.”
In conclusion, it turned out that several more years were then spent as a volunteer in serving many who bore the pain and the experience as the surviving family members of their loved ones who took their leave that morning, but in a professional capacity instead.
To those who dedicated themselves to the restoration of this site, to those who remained as surviving family members and friends, and to those who departed in sacrifice of the progress of humanity, we bow in deference and respect and ask for comfort for their movement through their journeys as well.