On the 9th anniversary of September 11, I kept thinking about the weather. It was clear and sunny today, with temperatures in the high 70s. It was a meteorological replica of September 11, 2001. So much natural beauty, and so many beautiful people out and about, living and enjoying the serenity and sunshine. Then the unthinkable. That's how it was nine years ago. It's amazing how the vagaries of nature can make an already intense experience all the more real. (Below I'm walking down Lexington from the Radisson Hotel to 42 Street and Grand Central Station. I'll take the subway to Lower Manhattan. It's a glorious morning.)
I came to New York to be here on this day, to be here --- in person and in solidarity --- for the families of the fallen. It's my first pilgrimage to New York for a 9/11 anniversary. I visited in August 2007, but it's been three years, and Ground Zero has changed tremendously. There's a feeling of attention, affirmation, and purpose that I hadn't felt in my previous visit. The construction largely explains it, but also the weekend atmosphere, with bustling crowds of visitors moving back and forth across the city streets, an hour or so after the official memorial ceremonies. It felt like a special day. And of course, New York has been in the news constantly, and the memory of those who died that day has been disrespected by the administration in Washington and by the left's Media-Industrial-Islamist-Complex. (By his own words, Imam Rauf is no moderate, but Amercans can't get a break from the lamestream press.)
I took hundreds of pictures. Most of what follows is chronological, with special attention to the day's highlights.
Arriving in Lower Manhattan, walking over to the WTC grounds from the City Center subway station, I came upon St. Paul's Chapel. What a perfect way to start the day's events. For eight months St. Paul's was a humanitarian command center following 9/11. As I walked inside, some folks were praying. Others were taking in the sights and significance of the location. Visitors certainly have a richly human record of those times, and my few minutes was entirely inadequate for the occasion. But I was deeply moved:
I felt as though this place was in God's hands. I knelt to pray. Nothing planned, I thanked God for giving comfort to the families and for keeping America strong during times of trouble. I thanked Him for his blessings upon our nation. I asked Him to extend his Goodness and Will as we work for peace in the world.
Walking down Fulton Street toward Ground Zero, I said hello to this couple of truthers. I had no idea how large a contingent these folks would have. More on them further down:
Here's the scene at Vesey and Church Streets. It's about 10:30am, or so. The crowds were pretty heavy and would grow throughout the day:
A pair of young Marines walking down Vesey Street, near the Information Booth on West Broadway. It's a sight for sore eyes to see U.S. servicemen sometimes, and these two were handsome and polite, so starkly different from the raving anti-Americans out in large numbers today:
This is One World Trade Center. It's really the Freedom Tower, now about one-third constructed. This was a kinda rush, thinking about this tower going up:
It will look like this upon completion:
High fencing with the large promotional banners obscures the view of the construction area, but walking down near the tower, there's an entry gate where one can get a good look:
Here's the display at the Information Booth:
Here's a neat before-and-after graphic of the grounds. The memorial pools, at the second diagram, are located at the footprints of the original towers:
Here's the Cordoba Center, on Park Place. The police had erected barricades in anticipation of the protest. Park 51 is at right:
That's an Amish market on the streetcorner. Kinda like a religious trainwreck over here:
One of the truthers challenged some mosque opponents lined up next to the barricades:
Taking a break, I enjoyed a wonderful two-beer breakfast with huevos rancheros on the side. Reminds me of home:
I watched some of the memorial service replay on the local news:
A beautiful mural outside the restaurant:
It's a little after noon by this time. I'm just cruising around a bit now, back and forth between WTC and Park Place. Here's a family waiting for the SIOA rally to begin:
Walking up to Church Street, there's a huge evangelical Christian wing working the street, attracting a lot of attention:
This guy wasn't going for the interfaith cooperation angle:
These folks, a bit further down the street, seemed pretty mellow, even accommodating (of radical Islam):
Continuing down Church, I learn of the Cross of Steel, found during the recovery after September 11. It will become a permanent exhibit at the 9/11 Memorial:
Getting back over to Vesey Street, I see a huge procession of 9/11 truthers. The MFM reports are starting to come in, and I'm watching cable news as well, and no reports so far on these freaks. No one disrespects those killed on 9/11 more than the truthers. Of course, they're allied with the neo-communist left (sounds weird, but I've covered it before, in Los Angeles). Where's the press coverage of the freaks, I say? The signs read, "WHERE IS OSAMA? TEN YEARS MOST WANTED!? MILITARY INCOMPETENCE? CIA ASSET? DEAD?", and "BIN LADEN WAS FRAMED":
The procession continues down Broadway:
The truthers head down into the financial district. They've got a loud chant and response: "9/11 --- TRUTH NOW!! ... 9//11 --- TRUTH NOW!!", and "WALL STREET WAR, WALL STEET WAR."
The procession headed back to Ground Zero. I continued on down to Wall Street to get pictures of the New York Stock Exchange. What a contrast. Pure hatred of Americans and "blood for high finance" extremism compared to the heart of American capitalism. I needed to see that fabulous flag after marching along with the truther creeps like that. Sheesh:
It's getting near-abouts 3:00pm pretty soon now, so I head back over to West Broadway and Park Place. A gentleman takes my photograph in front of the Mennonite choir down the way from the Helmsley Plaza:
The Mennonites are the sweetest people. I spoke with this young woman for a few minutes and I asked her if her group had a political agenda. She said, "Nope. Just spiritual." They came from Pennsylvania mostly, but she said some folks came Canada. Notice the traditional dress:
The ubiquitous repent wagon was circling around all day. I finally got close enough to get a decent picture:
Operation Save America. I'll check later, but I'm not sure if these folks are the same as Operation Rescue. Message is pretty much identical:
Behind St. Paul's, this gentleman below hangs a banner. Unequivocal:
A quiet man with a strong message (and he apparently never learned "i before e except after c"):
Okay, I make it back down to the SIOA rally, still a bit before start time. It's getting packed:
That's not to say there weren't a lot of flags, thanks to some entrepreneurial types:
I actually stayed just through Geert Wilders' talk. Here's Pamela:
She's got some nice photographs at Atlas Shrugs: "America Speaks! Historic 911 Rally Draws 40,000."
Geert Wilders gave an speech both fascinating and deeply felt. It was powerful.
Pamela posted the text: "Geert Wilders Speech at the 911 Rally of Remembrance." One of my favorite passages:
Friends, in honor of these victims, these heroes and their families, I believe that the words of Ronald Reagan, spoken in Normandy on the 40th anniversary of D-Day, resonate with new purpose on this hallowed spot. President Reagan said: “We will always remember. We will always be proud. We will always be prepared, so we may always be free.”And you can watch it as well, at Blazing Cat Fur, "Geert Wilders At Ground Zero Mosque Demo." Added: See El Marco's coverage, "Geert Wilders Warns America at 9/11 Remembrance Rally."
And, we, too, will always remember the victims of 9/11 and their loved ones who were left behind;
We, too, will always be proud of the heroes;
We will always defend liberty, democracy and human dignity;
In the name of freedom: No mosque here!
The New York Times has some brief coverage, placed in the larger national context: "On Sept. 11 Anniversary, Rifts Amid Mourning." AP is spinning the day as one of dueling protests. Yeah, multiple demonstrations, but nothing like the Ground Zero Freedom Rally. (And no mention of the 9/11 truther freaks.) That said, London's Telegraph has a decent piece, "America's agony: September 11 anniversary marked by anger and controversy."
Thanks for reading. I'll have more thoughts later.
And a special thanks to my friend Norman Gersman for his awesome New York hospitality.