Tag Archives: memorial

Visiting the September 11th Memorial

September 11th MemorialThe National September 11th Memorial opened in lower Manhattan on September 12th, 2011; so, it has now been open for two years. Yet, though yours truly is a resident of New York City, I only got around to seeing it for the first time last week, in the company of an out-of-town visitor who was interested in going there. Frankly, I’d had no great interest in seeing it (which I knew meant reserving a ticket and then standing in line to gain access to the memorial). Why? I suppose—although I fully appreciate the purpose of a national memorial for the victims of the September 11th attacks—that I just felt no need to utilize it. Without wanting to come across dramatic and angst-ridden, I think I can honestly say that I remember the 9/11 attack each and every day that I am in New York. And I’m quite sure that something very similar is true for most New Yorkers who were here on the day it happened. It’s merely human nature. Familiar things retain the sense of such an emotional event. I can’t so much as glance at the skyline without some measure of remembrance, however fleeting. A jet airliner flying relatively low … it’s just the way it is, and will be, till these bones are desposited into the earth. And just the typical weather of September in New York City evokes that day, in a similar way to that in which a specific smell can evoke vivid memories of a long past moment.

In addition to that, I didn’t lose a loved one in the attacks, so the site would not be a place for me to go and remember or pray for any one in particular.

Nevertheless, I can well understand why out-of-towners would want to go, and so I dutifully accompanied my visitor. It was not a challenge to reserve tickets online a day before (the rush has diminished since the opening two years ago). And the line to get in, through the entrance at the corner of Greenwich and Albany, moved pretty quickly. In line, one’s first impression is the similarity to going through airport security. There is a fairly thorough security check (please leave your guns and bombs at the hotel) and the passes I’d printed out from the internet were checked no less than three times.

At the end of it, you emerge into the September 11th Memorial, which is entirely outdoors. It basically comprises the land area that was occupied by the Twin Towers, and the space between them and immediately around them. (The new World Trade Center “Freedom Tower” is immediately adjacent.) When the towers were standing, you would have been able to walk through this space freely, entering from multiple points on the Manhattan street grid. Now that they’re gone, there is the single entrance via the security checks. Continue reading Visiting the September 11th Memorial

The Cinch Review

Carol Singing and Tree Lighting on Park Avenue in New York City

In 1945, a tradition was begun in New York City by a group of families led by one Mrs. Stephen C. Clark, to illuminate fir trees up and down the median of tony Park Avenue to honor members of the military who lost their lives in World War II. It is continued to this day as a memorial to those who have lost their lives defending the nation, and is accompanied by the singing of Christmas carols, with the throngs gathering in front of the Brick Presbyterian Church at 91st St. and Park Avenue. It takes place on the evening of the first Sunday of December, which was today. Park Avenue in the vicinity is closed to vehicular traffic and the crowds stream in on foot from the south and the north.

Traditions like these are worth cherishing. There’s a very short video clip below captured during this evening’s proceedings. Continue reading Carol Singing and Tree Lighting on Park Avenue in New York City

The Cinch Review

Misremembering Hitchens

James Kirchick (h/t Mick Hartley) writes on all that was left unsaid at a memorial service for Christopher Hitchens in New York last month.

The service began with an opening speech by Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter, who set the tone for the event when he mentioned, in passing, Christopher’s “curious prowar stance before the invasion of Iraq.” We would hear next to nothing about Iraq for the rest of the 90-minute service, a glaring omission considering that the war to overthrow Saddam Hussein, second only perhaps to his crusade against religion, was the defining topic of the last decade of Christopher’s life. An impressive array of people performed readings of Christopher’s best work; some of which—Tom Stoppard from a Nation piece on the Prague Spring, Tom Mallon from a Vanity Fair dispatch about North Korea, Christopher Buckley from the memoir Hitch 22—were deeply moving.

But not a single one of the readings was about Iraq, never mind the looming threat of Iran or the hypocrisies of the antiwar movement, topics that consumed Christopher and gradually drove him away from the Nation (which, he concluded, had become “the voice and the echo chamber of those who truly believe that John Ashcroft is a greater menace than Osama bin Laden”) and the left in general. One of his most memorable polemics, the absence of which at the memorial was surely attributable to the fact that it would have offended most of the people in the room, was his evisceration of filmmaker Michael Moore and his Fahrenheit 9/11. This “silly and shady man,” Christopher wrote, had produced a film which represented “a possible fusion between the turgid routines of MoveOn.org and the filmic standards, if not exactly the filmic skills, of Sergei Eisenstein or Leni Riefenstahl.”

Christopher never apologized for his support of the war, or expressed the slightest doubt that he had been wrong in backing it, but the memorial service tried to whitewash this episode as if it were akin to an embarrassing crime he had committed.