As a resident of Lower Manhattan, every 9-11, I am reminded in a very immediate and poignant way of the events of that tragic day via the tributes and memorials that are happen around me. The tribute in lights, the many bouquets of flowers inserted into breaks in the construction site wall as the former WTC site, the dozens of police and firefighters dressed in their dress blues, remembering their fallen friends and colleagues, friends and families carrying photographs of their lost loved ones, the stand of flags bearing victims' names at Bowling Green park, and the reading of the names, the sounding of the bells and the moments of silence marking the falls of the towers.
This 9-11 was a rainy, cold one, as many remarked, a very different day than the same date in 2001. Having lived down here for a few years, I had never before gone to see the reading of the names, which I usually watch on TV, but this morning, I turned off the TV and decided to walk down to Zucotti Park, across from the WTC site, where they were holding the tribute and see if I could experience it in person.
News trucks lined the street. as well as firetrucks and police vehicles.
Unfortunately, Zucotti Park had been barricaded off to the public. A very regal line of police and firefighters formed the back line of the park on Broadway. Only family and VIPs, I assume, were allowed into the enclosure. Along Broadway, I joined dozens of stangers who were braving the rain to watch from behind the barricades, but you couldn't hear anything more than muffled words from there, so the crowd was loose and uncommitted. Though at 9:59 am, I did hear hear the bells commemorating the fall of the second tower. I left a few minutes later and walked home.
I find it sad that the public isn't allowed to come together and commemorate this day in a more organized way. Why can't they hear the reading of the names in person? Is it due to a lack of suitable space for congregation? Are they waiting for the memorial to be built. It's been 9 years already. Do we have to wait ten more years to pay our respects properly? In the meantime, it would be nice to have a place to go to be as a community and reflect on what 9-11 taught us. Barricaded streets are an unfulfilling tribute to the victims of that day, both those who've passed and those who still bear the pain and trauma of that day.