11 September 2021


 I remember watching the Twin Towers going up in the 1970s from a pier in Bay Ridge Brooklyn. Before that there were rows of electronics stores on Cortlandt street I recall going to as a kid for a reel to reel tap recorder that was then still made in the USA. There was still a produce market on nearby Washington Street, before it was all transformed by development. Years later I had an office downtown a few blocks from there and for a time a parking space next to one of the towers due to street signs an associate managed to get put up. I spent a lot of time there either at Windows on the World, the underground mall, or visiting one of the offices in the buildings.

In its early days CNN had a glassed-in studio on the ground floor, and as time passed it was still a place where frivolity was possible, whether it was someone climbing all the way up to the roof of a tower, or an incredible aerial ballet by a man on a wire suspended between the two towers, as everyone looked up in disbelief and delight. All of that was before security became ubiquitous after 9/11. Times have often been characterized as periods of innocence, but now it is clear that was truly the case then.

Today you can't enter an office building in Manhattan without showing a photo ID, stating the purpose of your visit, wearing a mask, then receiving a pass, and being directed to a specific elevator. You used to be able to walk up the City Hall steps, and I remember even being able to temporarily park there. Now it is surrounded by tons of tall iron fencing, concrete barriers and tight security surround the police headquarters, and free movement is a thing of the past.

I was married at St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox church, which in the dusk made a tiny rectangular silhouette against the giant towers, dwarfed by their immensity. That image still haunts me to this day as the church was also obliterated on 9/11.

In the early days they had a hard time renting the space so a lot of the World Trade Center wound up being occupied by New York State offices. When George Pataki became Governor he couldn't wait to get away from there and relocated offices to midtown where it was more convenient to railroad to upstate from Grand Central. Thus, but for fate, there could have been a significantly different set of people there on September 11.

I remember well the first failed attack which killed those who unfortunately happened to be in the garage at the time, and people pouring out afterword covered with soot. But the towers stood and no one, in their wildest imagination, could then have conceived of the horror that took place years later in 2001. By that time I was no longer situated in the area, but any of us could have been there, and in truth all of us were there, for it truly was an assault on all Americans.

There has been only one film that really captured all that happened, which was called The Path to 9/11, which once aired on ABC, but which the scoundrels who now run Disney incomprehensibly refuse to re-release. Other attempts at the story have been pretty bad.

I haven't been back to the area where the towers stood since. It is still just too painful, having a vivid memory of what was once there, which has since passed into cruel oblivion, along with all those innocent souls that just happened to be there that day. Given that so much that transpired since has been reversed by recent events, today has become an ever more sad and somber anniversary, but one of events that we must not and will not ever forget.

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