At a Memorial Ceremony - Loss and Tension
15 September, 2010
At a Memorial Ceremony - Loss and Tension

ANDY NEWMAN (concise version)

Thousands of relatives of the 9/11 dead gathered in a park near ground zero on Saturday morning for the ninth annual reading of their names as a nation debated whether a mosque and Islamic community center should be built near ground zero and a president pleaded for religious tolerance. They filled a makeshift plaza in Zuccotti Park, beside a construction site sprouting cranes and American flags where 4 World Trade Center is rising, carrying cups of

coffee and bouquets of flowers, wearing the sweatshirts and T-shirts and ball caps of the Port Authority police, the New York State emergency medical technicians, the New York Fire and Police Departments and many other agencies. And on another crystal-clear September morn, a few degrees cooler than the one engraved on a city’s heart, they held aloft posters and photos of the departed whose captions told the story of that day and of this one.

From the stage, however, the ceremony kept strictly to remembrance and steered clear of politics. “No other public tragedy has cut our city so deeply,” Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said moments before a firefighter rang a silver bell at 8:47 a.m., signaling the moment the first plane hit the first tower. “No other place is as filled with our compassion, our love and our solidarity,” Mr. Bloomberg said. “It is with the strength of these emotions, as well as the concrete, glass and steel that is brought in day by day, that we will build on the footprints of the past the foundation of the future.”


Chang W. Lee/The New York Times Family members of the 9/11 victims at the reflecting pool during the ceremony of ninth anniversary of 9/11. The vice president, Joseph R. Biden Jr., read from a poem by Longfellow called “The Builders.”: “Make the house, where Gods may dwell /Beautiful, entire, and clean /Else our lives are incomplete.” Mostly, the morning belonged to the victims and the simple litany of their names – 2,752 were read aloud, flowing unstoppably from the mouths of those who mourned them yet. At 9:03, the bell was rung again to signal the moment the plane struck the south tower. In the silence that followed, a sparrow twittered. The muffled roar of traffic reached the plaza. Police officers on the roof of the building across the street scanned the skies with binoculars. Before the ceremony began, even amid the hugs and tears, the divisions were apparent. “A mosque is built on the site of a winning battle. They are symbols of conquest. Hence we have a symbol of conquest here? I don’t think so.” Hours later, after the sun had cleared the skyline and flooded the plaza, the reciting of the names continued. Each bereaved reader finished his or her list with the name of the loved one lost.  Just after noon, the last name was read, and the Young People’s Chorus of New York City trooped onstage in sashes of blue and orange and yellow and purple and red, and performed “Keep Me In Your Heart” to a plaza that had already mostly emptied. The mayor spoke again. A trumpeter faced ground zero and began to blow taps. A second trumpeter joined him in a round, and then a third – three men from the New York Police Department, the Fire Department and the Port Authority police, their clarion calls rising to the sky. Then the firefighter at the silver bell struck it one more time and departed, and the last of the families filed out into the brightness of midday.

Note of Sincere Commiseration by NBR:
Right at the moment of those disastrous explosions, I was working in my office in Arlington, Virginia. Having heard the darkest ever news, I knew that the world was going to change. America has never stopped its heroic struggle since the tragic moment to persistently and diligently cope with the painful change. I simply wanted to say that the entire Georgian nation is next to the American people in this ceaseless and relentless struggle dedicated to the triumph of one of the loftiest of human ideals – the good will defeat the evil. This is how it sounds and looks in Georgian: borotsa sZlia keTilman, arseba misi grZelia  - borotsa sdzlia ketilman, arseba misi grZelia.

Prepared by NBR

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