Given tight security in Lower Manhattan on this day, that it was a day of remembrance and reflection and that I also had some of my own reflecting to do about the recent loss of my own mother (Virginia B. Saunig), the state of our nation and my desire to grasp what is truly happening in our city and our country a decade after the attacks of 9/11, solitude was my guide. This was not a day I wanted to observe and write about as a witness in the company of those who were were mourning, some of whom I know. I did not want to be a journalist or taking photos in the presence of my friends and given the many complicated and unresolved thoughts I have about this day I felt it most respectful to watch from a distance and spare critique or analysis of the process and the politics that led to this day. That would be saved for a later day.
As I watched the ceremony and witnessed some of our most precious citizens giving tribute to their loved ones, it brought me to thoughts of my own mother’s recent passing. While my mother did not die in a horrific terrorist attack destroying the Twin Towers, what I saw today in the brief speeches by members of the families of victims during the reading of the names as well as in the quiet times I have spent in the company of those friends from the Voices of September 11th who have shared with me about their loses is that we grieve but also learn and evolve from those that leave us. Maybe it is no coincidence that I have had the opportunity to meet a truly spiritual lady in author Bonnie McEneaney who lost her husband, Eamon McEneaney in the attacks of September 11th. Bonnie wrote the book “Messages: Signs, Visits, and Premonitions from Loved Ones Lost on 9/11” which I have read and referred to as a reference at certain points, especially in recent days. It is a book I recommend to anyone who is introspective about the loss of a loved one.
And then I thought of my mother praying with us every night at bed time:
Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep,
If I should die before I wake,
I pray the Lord my soul to take.
If I should live for other days,
I pray the Lord to guide my ways.
At the end of that prayer we gave a special blessing to selected members of our family, special friends who were suffering and our pets. And were she here today, I know that she would have led me in prayer for those families who lost someone on that fateful day. And maybe we would also have uttered a special prayer for some special friends from the Voices of September 11th, including Bonnie McEneaney and other members of the McEneaney family who invited me into their lives and shared their personal stories and their humanity with me. These people who were strangers to me on 9/11 have made me feel more connected to the soul of this city, our nation and my own mother.
As I lay me down to sleep
This I pray
That you will hold me dear
Though I’m far away
I’ll whisper your name into the sky
And I will wake up happy
Sophie B. Hawkins song As I Lay Me Down had been playing in my head over the last couple of weeks since my mom’s passing. Though the lyrics of this song always bring tears to my eyes, it still results in a smile fighting through the tears, much like the sun fighting through the clouds. In the reflection inspired thereby I arrive at the sense that she is there, feels my pain and she comforts and consoles me because she always wants me to wake up happy. I close my eyes, whisper her name and reflect on all the lessons that she provided to enable me to sustain myself. And every time I do, I remember something else. It is then that I see her smile, feel her warmth. My mother lives and speaks to me in my dreams, guides me in my thoughts and steers me in my expression; proving that a mother can still love you even in her physical absence and wanting for me what I have not always wanted for myself, to achieve more, to execute a life’s passion but to recognize the beauty in the people that can also help steer your ship when maybe you feel uncertain or lost. Ok mom, game on.
Ding Dong! The Witch is dead. Which old Witch? The Wicked Witch!
Ding Dong! The Wicked Witch is dead.
Wake up – sleepy head, rub your eyes, get out of bed.
Wake up, the Wicked Witch is dead. [he's] gone where the goblins go,
Below – below – below. Yo-ho, let’s open up and sing and ring the bells out.
Ding Dong’ the merry-oh, sing it high, sing it low.
Let them know
The Wicked Witch is dead!
The Obama administration has been dismissed as incompetent and incapable, especially on issues of national security and foreign policy, by the opposing party. Yet I still don’t really want to say it, but didn’t a Democratic President and his administration accomplish in 2 plus years what a Republican one couldn’t in 8 Years?
OK in truth maybe that is not fair, because reportedly there has been a seamless continuity in our military strategy dealing with terrorism. Viewed more narrowly, at this juncture, U.S. foreign policy gets tweaked by different Presidents who manage at the margins in the context of the pursuit of longer term plans to advance the interests of America. But still can a few Republicans give this President his due rather than trying to diminish his accomplishments? Even George W. Bush did.
President Obama’s announcement tonight is a symbolic and moral victory for all humanity. As the founder of Voices of September 11th, and the mother of Brad Fetchet who was killed in the World Trade Center in 2001, I want to express my gratitude to the President, the CIA, the military forces and all others who assisted. Tonight, as we think of all our 9/11 families, we also remember the families of all the troops and intelligence officers who gave their lives in pursuit of Al Qaeda and the man known as the architect of 9/11. It renews our faith that good can conquer evil and all people can breathe free. It is our mission at Voices to keep the stories of those killed and impacted by 9/11/2011 alive. ….Please join us on our Facebook page to stay informed…
America won tonight, but when I go on Facebook what did see but some of my more partisan Republican friends saying that this President deserves absolutely no credit while they try to make sure that their team gets the credit for what has transpired. Given the historic nature of what transpired here, shouldn’t they all be joining the rest of the country in a round of “ding, dong the wicked witch is dead” ? Hell forget that, go outside and you will see that our people are literally “dancing in the streets”. You just may want to join in the ‘Victory for America’ celebrations.
Nevertheless, keep in mind that President Barack Obama, did not hold a “Mission Accomplished” ceremony or disperse Wanted: Dead or Alive posters. He has quietly and rather stealthy pursued a strategy leading to the elimination of the Al Qaeda leader. Yet now it remains to be seen whether he will be given credit for it, if not by Republicans, by voters in 2012 when he is up for re-election. Once and for all can we dispense with the fiction that Republicans are better on issues related to National Security? On violating personal privacy, I will give you the GOP is clearly better. 2012 is right around the corner, maybe it’s time to get your Democratic Stuff.
In a related story, Donald Trump has just announced that he wants to see Osama Bin Laden’s death certificate, an authentic one (kidding).
Today, as I took a walk in and around Lower Manhattan and Tribeca specifically, I found myself looking up near the World Trade Center site, and with all due respect to the rebuilding efforts of some of New York’s prominent Real Estate families, I still find myself very much less than amazed at what has been rebuilt there to date. For all the talk of American exceptionalism, does it not begin and end with what we do or do not do at Ground Zero?
My thoughts were with my brother Stewart, a former construction worker with J Fletcher Cramer & Son and Joseph M. Sanzari, Inc. out of New Jersey. His work in the cleanup effort shortly after the attacks of September 11, 2001 and the brutality of the scene in the early hours and days after our national tragedy still scar his memory. I thought of my deceased father who was an engineer for Shea Stadium’s Engineer/Architect Praeger-Kavanagh-Waterbury (PKG). He had a tremendous understanding of the historical import of structures that symbolize the spirit, ingenuity and achievement of a society; symbols that forces of modernity should not be allowed to simply wash away. For in the attempt to move forward there is the risk that in discarding or not paying fair tribute to the past, you will move a society backwards. He would often discuss with me why they preserved The Pyramids of Ancient Egypt, the Acropolis in Athens, Greece, The Colosseum of Rome. Yet we allow for the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center which sat at the crossroads of humanity to melt into the distant past.
I thought of the work of Twin Towers Alliance Foundation, a voice of reason, often in the wilderness failing to gain meaningful traction in a mainstream media consumed instead with perpetuating false and irrelevant themes than educating and lifting the populace. And wondered further what the Voices of September 11th would have wanted us to do as a people. After the mourning and beyond the tribute of a 9/11 Living Memorial Project how would we continue to honor their memory? Would they have wanted us to simply accept being a lesser nation, a dispirited and aimless people?
As the fate of our country and perhaps humanity as a whole hangs in the balance, all around us I witness the disintegration of American culture and values, not knowing for sure where it all ends but recognizing for sure where it all began. The work of the Twin Towers Alliance Foundation has never been more relevant as we find ourselves less than six months away from the 10th Anniversary of 9/11. What if our leaders had followed their sage instruction and listened rather than subjugated the will of the people for restoration of the symbols of our national pride? The Swindle at Ground Zero has sold America short.
So I say to you:
Help, I have done it again
I have been here many times before
Hurt myself again today
And, the worst part is there’s no-one else to blame
Be my friend
Hold me, wrap me up
I am small
Warm me up
And breathe me
These were my thoughts without realizing at the time that Monday, April 4, 2011 is what would have been the 38th Birthday of the Twin Towers. 38 years ago today the World Trade Center opened.
We have the clip of Mayor Bloomberg haughtily decreeing: “We are not going to rebuild the World Trade Center Towers.” But where is the clip of Mayor Bloomberg, or anyone else, patiently explaining WHY NOT? SAYS WHO?
Mayor Mike Bloomberg for all of his administrative expertise & vaunted CEO Skills has seemingly morphed into a vision-less leader consumed with his own pet projects and pontificating on national issues that have absolutely nothing to do with restoration of the character, integrity and soul of New York City, but may only hopefully serve to maintain the illusion of his fading presidential aspirations.
Certainly during this economic downturn, the Mayor and his team deserve credit for their efforts to advance the interests of New York City and in a nod to the Giuliani Legacy, continuing to focus on driving tourism into the metropolis and avoiding a descent into the abyss of 1970’s. But here we are nearly 10 years since 9/11 and The Great Enigmatic Compromise at the World Trade Center site has resulted in a 9/11 Memorial & Museum and the mayor’s office supporting the Park 51 mega mosque, with the one New York Restoration Project totally and completely ignored, rebuilding the iconic Twin Towers, in favor of a vision that may turn Lower Manhattan into a ‘Disneyland of Death.’ While a hole remains in the soul of this city, this year will finally bring us a place to mourn 9/11. Is this rebuilding or restoring the character and soul of our metropolis or in effect turning it into a giant morgue or cemetery? Why don’t we just put up a sign that reads: NYC: RIP—This is the Place where Capitalism & Free Enterprise once lived.
While I considered whether the snowstorm of 2010 was Bloomberg’s Waterloo, truth is that there have been a number of things which should have served as his Waterloo but he has repeatedly been let off the hook because his vast resources and stature as New York City’s Mayor and media kingpin have given him a platform in the national debate even as many local issues may no longer be relevant or of concern to a man who has seemingly accomplished everything yet finds that even his unlimited coffers may not buy him the Presidency, much less another term as mayor.
Our leaders ought to be encouraging a direct dialogue with citizens, but instead they pontificatefrom their exalted media platforms. When you seek literally to control the marketplace of ideas, and in effect close off debate and stifle legitimate inquiry, you crowd out competing views, perspective, investment and perhaps even other sources of philanthropy. Where they should persuade and convince citizens of the merits of their ideas and the reasons why as NYC Mayor one would say no to rebuilding the Twin Towers but instead push mightily, passionately and in a truly hyperbolic fashion for the building of an Islamic Community Center near Ground Zero against the will of the people, and then instead highlight the nearing completion of a 9/11 Memorial & Museum as a great and symbolic accomplishment. Given that it will have taken over a decade to literally put up anything downtown of import makes any such claim absolutely ridiculous. Notably, the opening has been delayed to September 11, 2012, it has been reported that Jon Stewart has been appointed to 9/11 Museum Board. In 2011 whatever Project Rebirth is being documented downtown, at present it still largely looks like a construction site with one half built building.
In hindsight, some day as we look back at what historically changed or downsized the character and soul of New York City, we may come to view the battle between Bloomberg vs. Trump as one “Of Mice and Men” and the battle of ideas between Bloomberg vs. the people as one simply bypassed, a dialogue never fully engaged; a broken social contract. Thank you Twin Towers Alliance for fighting the good fight and to Voices of September 11th and the numerous family members for reminding of ‘the Messages’ and dreams of your loved ones and what we lost that fateful day in September 2001. Finally, I must acknowledge and accept that the opinions expressed herein are my own and that I know full well that we may not all share the same perspective, opinion or politics. Please know that the conclusions drawn were not easy to arrive at or necessarily pleasurable ones to make public. I am nevertheless a better more enlightened citizen for your spirit of generosity in not only considering my opinion but also in helping to shape them. God bless you all.
DO I HATE MUSLIMS? Thisis a question that I have been asked by some who have read my blog, and it is has also regularly been asked by mainstream media talking heads who question opponents of the Ground Zero Mosque. Do I want to hurt them or discriminate against their civil rights are often the questions that are posed as a follow up.
He’s addressing a debate within liberalism. He is, just like me and I think many others, surprised—and that’s an understatement—that some liberals choose to defend ideas that are very illiberal and choose to look away from practices that are even more illiberal. Why are they excusing radical Islam? That fascinates Berman and it also fascinates me, what the presence of Islam does to the liberal psyche in the West.
Principle does not preclude nuance when it comes to analyzing the current global Islamic identity crisis. All the more ironic when you consider that nuance is something that progressives on the left have and continue to use to finesse so many issues of import, yet in this case they see no reason to do so rather than frame a majority of Americans as a bunch of intolerant Neanderthals. While I do not advocate violence against any citizen regardless of their belief system (religious or otherwise) that does not mean that I do not advocate critical analysis and legitimate and thoughtful inquiry of movements that impinge on Liberty, Freedom, Democracy and Capitalism itself. Arguably many American Muslims and westernized practitioners of the faith may have far less in common with Islamists in Muslim Nation States. I even suspect that there are some who have left and those who have never lived but would likely not wish to practice their faith in the Islamic heartland so to speak.
Islam needs a reform movement to cleanse itself of its radical elements, recognizing that far too few of its adherents in the West feel truly comfortable or secure in their person, should they question publicly the tenets of Islam as do Christians and Jews of their own faith. Last I checked The POPE has never issued any fatwa’s against all the non-believers in the United States or even those in New York who practice what traditionalists might refer to as an American variation of Catholicism. On the other hand, too many American Muslims do not want to go against the grain of Anti-Americanism, the leaders of their Mosques and/or their own families when it comes to challenging traditionalists of their faith. In their silence, they are however complicit. And in effect they join the Islamic finger pointers who never cease to continue to remind us what is wrong with America rather than introspectively examining an ideologically barren movement of violence and hate that they insist on proselytizing, in our schools.
ISLAM is thus largely SILENT except when it comes to portraying their followers as victims of American intolerance. You want to know where Muslims are the victims of intolerance? In Muslim Nation States; in places like Iran where women live in fear of the Mullah’s and members of the Arab gay community wonder how long it will be before their secret or the Queer Jihad is discovered and they hang for it.
So, am I intolerant? Am I the bigot? Nope. I am just a big bold question mark about a troubled and troubling movement that we must examine in the light of day and not allow political correctness to place a veil of “Islamophobia” over all fair analysis to evoke sympathy and stifle legitimate inquiry of a significant threat to American civilization. American Muslims must rise and stand against the intolerance in their own faith before dictating tolerance by those who resist where they are passive. For example, while you could build a Mosque at Ground Zero, it is fair to ask morally should a mega Mosque be built at Ground Zero? Some Muslims have in fact spoken out against the Ground Zero Mosque, rather eloquently in fact.
But I suspect that may only happen when we make the world safe and free of the radicals. As many medically or physically inclined know, “free radicals” destroy the human body and free radicals will destroy this planet if we allow them to.
In conclusion, it comes down to this:
I HATE that we cannot ask questions about this movement without being perceived as hate-mongers. And I HATE that I must be critical of the positions of Mayor Mike Bloomberg and the wisdom of President Obama on this issue, two leaders who I have supported rather enthusiastically. That must change or America will not ever be safe, until America is no longer.