Continued from “A Good Name

     Upon landing, Frank and I took a cab to the city, checked into our room and went right back out to catch a cab. We headed toward “Ground Zero.” We were left at the curb in front of Trinity Church, which was temporarily closed due to residue. For three blocks, we passed chain link fences stuffed with flowers and photos. Quiet onlookers whispered and snapped photographs. There wasn’t much to see. We kept walking.

      If the towers were the center of a clock face, then the church was at 6:00. As we approached 8:00, there were many signs warning people not to take photos or video.  At 10:00, the street was ripped up and the usually flat sidewalks were uneven. Exhausted crews covered in sweat and soot dug mechanically avoiding electrical wires and water lines. At 12:00, we found ourselves walking along the Battery Park City promenade with an inspiring view of Lady Liberty. The late afternoon sun sparkled over the Hudson and for a moment, I reminisced about our best memories of the Big Apple. At the 1:00 mark, we came upon an inlet, which was part of the Manhattan Yacht Club.

        We departed the promenade and followed a path into a small park where we found a makeshift memorial. Many hundreds of teddy bears were piled deep and wide along the horseshoe shaped alcove. Laminated photos, letters, and funeral service programs were pinned to each bear. Flowers were everywhere. There were not too many onlookers. It seemed to be a private, almost sacred place. Perhaps, this is where family members were invited to leave something behind. Just as one is compelled to read the names along the Vietnam “Wall” Memorial, so it was natural to read letters, to glance at photos, to notice dates of birth. All dates of death were the same: September 11, 2001. I was stunned to see that so many victims were born after 1970. The photos made everything so palpable. Brides, grooms, athletes, graduates, those in uniform, and the families left behind. I came upon an enlarged photo of a beautiful extended family all around the Christmas tree. The man who was killed was obviously the proud patriarch in the middle of the group.

            “Dear Dad,  We miss you terribly and not a day goes by that we don’t ache.  Your kindness has been a gift to all who knew you and we can’t believe  your electric smile won’t be around to light up the room this Christmas. The twins ask for Pop-Pop every day and we tell them you went on a trip to heaven. Mom hasn’t been the same but we promise we’ll take good care of her for you. When the time is right, we will all be together again. That will be an amazing reunion.Thanks for being the world’s best Dad. You always taught us the importance of honoring God and family. You have given us a good name and we  promise to make you proud.
            Love you forever,  Susan”

The story continues at “A Good Name – Part III