[caption id="attachment_80111" align="aligncenter" width="300"] The new World Trade Center and images in light of the lost Twin Towers[/caption]
By Ray O’Hanlon
Ask anyone who was in New York on 9/11 to describe the day and they will inevitably include, with all else, the weather.
It was sublime.
The sky was the shade of blue that bespoke of heaven, even as an unearthly hell was being unleashed by evil men.
Today, the sky over New York is not 9/11 blue.
It is cloudy with a cool breeze after heavy rain yesterday.
On 9/11, 2001 the World Trade Center Twin Towers were visible for many miles, easily seen from the cockpit of the first hijacked jet that was following the Hudson River’s course southwards to Manhattan.
The Hudson today was as it should be: a body of water for commerce and recreation, though not so much of the latter as the freshening breeze pushed whitecaps from the north towards the forest of cranes working to build the new Tappan Zee Bridge.
At 9.03 a.m., the time when the second hijacked plane struck the South Tower, the sky above the river was empty but for a family of Bald Eagles, three of them using the wind to glide in wide circles.
They were on patrol, defending the nation they symbolize.
The sight of them was comforting, beautiful, plain normal.
It is fourteen years since 9/11. No time at all really.
We tend to make bigger deals of standout anniversaries: the first, fifth, tenth and so on.
So what of fourteen. Can we read any significance into the number?
Sure, if we want to.
The working life of the Twin Towers was 28 years. So what’s half of 28?
But of course the most significant numbers for 9/11 - leaving aside the actual date and the numbers of four doomed flights - will always be the total death toll, in New York, at the Pentagon, and in a Pennsylvania field.
And today we also remember those who died in the 1993 Trade Center bombing.
They too are remembered at the extraordinarily peaceful and inspiring memorial laid atop the carnage that was Ground Zero.
Pope Francis will be there a few days from now.
He will see, for the first time, what the good side of human nature can achieve.
But he will close his eyes and see all too clearly what the darker side can inflict.
These words are being written as the names of the dead are being read aloud, just a handful of miles away, at the annual commemoration ceremony, now being held in the shadow of the majestic new World Trade Center One, all 1776 feet of it.
Those names can be read on the tops of the walls surrounding the two reflecting pools that occupy the footprints of the lost towers.
The names are not in alphabetical order, but rather clustered in groups that match how those lost on 9/11 lived and worked together.
They are friends, colleagues, lovers, side by side for all eternity.
There are a lot of Irish names, and names from just about any other country you can think of.
New York, after all, was built by everyone from everywhere.
So this sacred space at Manhattan’s end bears a name that speaks of something far removed from geographic limitation.
As such, people around the United States and around the world remember 9/11 on this 9/11.
It is an anniversary for all.