Sunday, July 16, 2006

More Scrapbooking!

Here's today's addition:

I know it looks plain, but under the photo is the following journalling:
I wasn’t sure how I would feel once I was there, but I knew that during Fleet Week I had to go to Ground Zero. The opportunity arose when I heard bout tours being given by TributeNYC, people who were there that day, or that had lost a family member there. I knew that was the kind of first hand experience I wanted. You see, on 9-11-01 I was on the USS Theodore Roosevelt, CVN-71. We were on stand-down leave in preparation for a scheduled deployment when those horrific events occurred. I was in Alabama meeting my future mother-in-law. When the second plane hit the World Trade Center tower, Tony and I knew we had to return to our command. Not once during the 10 hour drive home did we listen to anything but news. We knew that it was likely that we were on our way to combat.
Our ship left a very short 10 days later and went straight to the Persian Gulf where we flew mission after mission over Iraq. We knew that the jobs we were doing had a very meaningful purpose, not just to us, but to our nation and even more so the people of New York City. While on station representatives of the NYFD and NY Port Authority came tour ship and presented to us an American Flag that had been flown over the ruins of the WTC. In a very solemn and meaningful ceremony, we flew that flag on our mast while flying sorties in combat, and then returned it to the City of New York. Because of this I feel a kinship to the people who were also affected though differently by the events that occurred on that September day.
Our tour of Ground Zero was on a Sunday, 26 May, 2006. My liberty buddy, AT1 Sonya Flores, and I were met by a few others from the ship and our tour guide. He worked at the SUNY and his wife worked a block from the former WTC. He was knowledgeable in both the events of that day and the history and architecture of the buildings. Because we were in uniform we were allowed into the memorial area, usually only open to family members. There were hundreds of patches and coins from military and emergency services from all over the nation. There were mourning cards and hats and personal mementos. It was heart breaking to see all those items and know they each represented a hero who had lost their life doing their job. The site itself was not what I expected, though 5 years after the attack I’m not sure what exactly I was expecting.
Construction crews have been working to shore-p the walls of what had formerly been basement spaces, and are now external walls. Damage to a building across the street was so extensive they have decided to raze it, one floor at a time. In doing so they are still finding small fragments of people who were in the towers as they collapsed, inside the ventilation systems. Our guide told us of the gruesome sights, some so horrific that the human brain has a hard time processing what it sees. I cried hearing these stories.
Though no permanent memorial has been constructed on the site (thanks in part to the necessity of commissioning artist and architects and having to pass legislation), our tour ended at a reflection pond designed to memorialize 13 individuals who worked for American Express that fateful day and lost their lives. It was a 13 sided pool, with a name on each side and in the pool is engraved a short phrase or words chosen to commemorate that person’s life, A large piece of quartz is suspended by 13 wires representing their life lines, and in the ceiling above 13 “tears” dripped into the pool causing ripples that all joined together. It was here that our tour guide thanked us for allowing him to share his experiences. He shared with us the enormous se3nse of peace he felt waking on Sep 13, 2001 to see a Navy Aircraft Carrier in the Harbor, and thanked us on behalf of himself and the people of New York City. It was an experience I will never forget.

I have 2 or 3 more layouts to do, of photos taken at Ground Zero. I will work on them later this week. I am feeling successful just getting this one done. It's very simple but it's such a solomn topic. More to follow!

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