To build a lasting dream

September 10, 2011

Dennis Eamon Young

OPINION By DENNIS EAMON YOUNG

The city that never sleeps is having an anniversary. It is a terrible and yet hopeful time for all New Yorkers, wherever we may be.

We may have pursued our dreams to many other corners of the world, but this is where it all started. Some were born in this magic place, others borne to it on the wings of their dreams. We all love the city, even when we are angry at it and if someone hurts it, it hurts us as well. That is something we neither forget, nor forgive, especially on this anniversary.

Once there were the twin towers of the World Trade Centers standing at the tip of Manhattan. Ten years ago they were destroyed by a small group of people filled with unreasoning hate. Not a personal hatred based upon other human beings who had done them wrong, but a hatred of our system of living, working, governing and dreaming. Perversely, it was the very openness and freedom of our system, which helped them do that terrifying deed.

Thousands of people died that day. Not only Americans, but also citizens of over ninety nations died in those ruins. They had come to our city and made their home in order to pursue their dreams. Dreams cannot be so easily expunged. Others have taken up the mantle of these dreamers, planning, building and working towards a new vision of lower Manhattan, creating a thriving environment anew.

Many of these are survivors of loved ones lost in the demise of the towers. This is a work of love and passion, a cause of remembrance. Two man-made waterfalls will sit in the footprints of the original towers surrounded by bronze plaques emblazoned with the names of those lost on that day, as well as those killed in the prior attack on the towers. Other towers and a transportation hub are rising over an underground Hall of Remembrance.

A six-hour televised special called “The Rising” has documented the painful journey from ruin to re-visioning for the site. It is not an easy film to view, showing the stories of those left behind, grappling with the loss of fathers, mothers, wives, husbands, children and friends. It is inspiring however, to see the dedication involved in a unique and monumental task of encompassing all the myriad needs and desires of creating a complete environment of hope for the future.

Having a background as a firefighter in the U.S. Air Force, I knew as I listened to early radio reports that day that we were going to lose some of those heroes and said as much to my younger daughter as I was driving her to work. It was appalling when the first tower came down. I cried then. By the time the second tower fell, I was numb.
Even after the passage of over thirty years, I felt as if I were AWOL from duty. I spoke with a firefighter friend in a local Connecticut fire station and he told me they all felt much the same, as only a handful had been able to help on that morning.

At that time the United States had a marvelous window of opportunity open to us. Most of the world felt in solidarity with us. We could have built upon that, but unfortunately we missed that chance in the months, then the years that followed.

It was a month before I was able to take a train down to the city and walk the area. I did indeed cry at that which had been done, as I began to take in the fuller extent of the tragedy. Trinity Church, being positioned as close to the towers as it was, should logically have also been destroyed, but somehow had been spared. The church had become part hospital and part social network. It was covered inside with pictures, posters and notes begging for information about loved ones.

A wide swath of streets surrounding the area looked more like a war zone than the center of a vibrant economic world hub. Streets, stores, cars, windows, all were covered with an insidious thick layer of dust. It was a flakey, grimy substance with a noxious odor that gave off a sense of danger all it’s own. I found it hard to believe that Christie Whitman of the E.P.A. and then Mayor of New York, Rudy Guiliani, had declared the air around the site to be of no danger. That proclamation may have prevented panic, but has proven dangerous, even lethal in the interim to many of those first responders and volunteers working to rescue and clean up in the days, weeks and months following the attack.

On the tenth anniversary of this calamity, September 11, 2011, there will be a dedication ceremony at the site, showing the world our rebuilding progress. Even more important will be the opening of the area to the families and friends of those who were lost on that infamous day. It will provide a sanctum for us all to commune with those souls who never came home. I will, as will all New Yorkers everywhere, be there that day in spirit, looking forward to the time when I might be able to travel there in person.

May they all rest in peace.

Dennis Eamon Young was born and raised in Brooklyn. He was a firefighter, air crash specialist in the U.S. Air Force, went to schools in N.Y.C. for photography, becoming a fashion and advertising photographer and certified photo instructor. He now resides in Shell Beach, owns Dennis Eamon Young Photo and is President of SLO NightWriters. You can see some of his work at www.DennisEamonYoungPhoto.com.


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4 Comments

  1. rogerfreberg says:

    Nice post.

    Having worked in NYC as a young man, spent a few weeks on the 104th floor and loved to sit next to the ‘Windows of the world” a floor or two above. New York City is a spectacular place, a place everyone should see. As many have said, to understand America, you must visit New York City.

    For the future, we must keep our resolve as those who through envy and jealousy try to tear down all that we have built up for a life most cultures abandoned a millennium ago.

    (-2) 10 Total Votes - 4 up - 6 down
    • WiseGuy says:

      Roger, you degrade Mr. Young’s thoughtful article by spewing the typical ego-driven, wrong-headed, hate-inspired propaganda that tragically mischaracterizes the roots of animosity between the U.S. and many foreigners.

      It is NOT “envy and jealousy” that has inspired the God-awful Islamic extremist attacks against the U.S.. What these extremists generally object to is the infiltration of U.S. promoted hedonistic, materialistic, highly-sexualized, spiritually-devoid consumer culture. They don’t envy it, they fear it and don’t want it destroying their loved ones and the most honorable aspects of their culture. They DON’T want what we have. They are REJECTING it. And they have plenty of GOOD reasons for doing so. I do NOT condone the way they are reacting, but I understand why they are so riled up. The U.S., in general, does not treat the Islamic culture and religion with proper respect. Your posting is a case in point. Many of your other postings have been even worse on this account.

      The U.S. is not totally innocent in this cultural war. Comments like yours that grossly mischaracterize the nature of the conflict exacerbate misunderstanding and conflict. Your attitude, that you so freely spew, only makes matters worse.

      (2) 16 Total Votes - 9 up - 7 down
      • easymoney says:

        “On the tenth anniversary of this calamity, September 11, 2011, there will be a dedication ceremony at the site, showing the world our rebuilding progress. Even more important will be the opening of the area to the families and friends of those who were lost on that infamous day. It will provide a sanctum for us all to commune with those souls who never came home. I will, as will all New Yorkers everywhere, be there that day in spirit, looking forward to the time when I might be able to travel there in person.”

        “May they all rest in peace.”

        (2) 4 Total Votes - 3 up - 1 down
    • willie says:

      those who through “envy and jealousy” try to tear down all that we have built up for a life most cultures abandoned a millennium ago.

      You must be kidding.
      I don’t think so.
      Moderator says: many remarks deleted and comments are disabled, sorry…

      (-1) 7 Total Votes - 3 up - 4 down

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