Monday, September 11, 2006

IGNITING A GLOBAL MADNESS

It was a gathering of New Yorkers to grieve the missing and the dead.

More than 60,000 tickets were handed out to the families of firefighters, cops, rescue workers, and thousands of civilians who died in the World Trade Center collapse.

Oprah Winfrey and James Earl Jones hosted the event in which Placido Domingo soothed the crowd with his rendition of “Ave Maria” while Bette Midler exulted those who perished by singing “Wind Beneath My Wings.” Readings were given by religious leaders of various faiths.

There were gifts, too, for those who came to attend this event — tiny U.S. flags, fresh roses of assorted colors, and lots of stuffed toys for the children. My brother got me this crying bear (pictured above) when he attended this event at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx — “A Prayer for America” — on September 23, 2001, two days after his birthday

My brother who managed the pathology department of a downtown hospital in Manhattan was deeply affected by this incident. From the morning of the attack until several days later, he helped received many people holding pictures of their loved ones who worked at the World Trade Center. They were desperately searching for their missing loved ones by walking to every hospital in the city.

It was the most disheartening ordeal on a massive scale that my brother had ever experienced.

Ironically, I was not in New York City when it happened; I was in the Philippines on vacation for the very first time since leaving it many years ago. Together with some cousins, we were about to enter a music club in Tomas Morato when I received a call from a colleague in New York. He said the city was under attack.

Instead of going inside the club, my cousin suggested that we all go back to his house to check out CNN; we did. And there it was — the first tower collapsing only a few minutes after we arrived in his house. I couldn’t sleep well during the ensuing nights.

With pressing matters that needed attending to, it wasn’t until early November when I finally took a flight back home to New York. To make things worse, my dog of 17 years died of old age in mid-October while I was still in Manila. It was my poor brother who had to make all the necessary arrangements for his cremation. Nonetheless, he handed me the crying bear because he knew losing a beloved pet dog was much like losing a child.

My port of entry was Detroit International Airport. Immediately upon disembarking the plane and walking through customs, I noticed the remarkable change — National Guard personnel equipped with their menacing automatic weapons were all over the terminal. This reminded me of how my Jewish friend described Tel Aviv airport — spilling over with heavily-armed Israeli army soldiers.

There was an eerie silence aboard the Detroit to New York plane I was on as it approached the Manhattan skyline. The iconic twin towers were no longer there.

And during the following days after my return, the change of overall demeanor amongst New Yorkers became even more apparent — everyone seemed so much nicer to one another; a drastic change in attitude, which could have been brought about by being humbled by this tragic terrorist attack.

And on New Year’s Eve, along with a group of friends, I did what I had only done once before in my life — join the throngs of revelers at Times Square. It was a show of solidarity amongst fellow New Yorkers — a way to demonstrate our not succumbing to fear. Everyone refused to make the terrorists feel victorious.

Although in reality, the terrorists did manage somehow to change certain aspects of our lives for the worse — not only in America, but throughout the globe.

A picture I took of the Manhattan skyline during the mid-1980s.




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posted by Señor Enrique at 10:54 AM


17 Comments:

Anonymous niceheart said...

I knew you were going to post about 9/11 today. I was actually looking forward to it. All along I thought that you were there when it happened. So I thought wrong. I also still remember the first time I heard about it. I was watching TV and was pissed at first when "The View" didn't come on air at 10:00 am. Instead it was Peter Jennings on ABC news and there I saw pictures of the towers collapsing. And then of course the following days, they kept on showing on TV how the towers collapsed. It was very disheartening and a tragedy like that really makes us look at our lives. How short life is and that we should really live it the best way we could.

September 11, 2006 11:32 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

It was definitely an awakening for us all, Niceheart.

Thought the entry I'd post as a tribute should highlight more of some steps taken towards a healing process.

But there's another personal story here, which has something more to do with things supernatural. I'm still trying to put it together as I've promised Philippines Phil I would.

But you know me, Irene, I try to set things up (though ever so slowly) so they don't appear so fantastic and made up :)

I think anyone on a healing journey tend to do just that -- approach things more carefully as if involved in some serious study.

September 11, 2006 1:52 PM  

Blogger ipanema said...

The 9/11 incident really brought people together despite the sad stories of some families torn by the millions offered to keep their mouth shut.

It was my mother's life that really awakened the fear in me. It took her and my brother several months to bring her back to New York.

Sometimes it takes tragedy to bring people together, how sad. :(

September 11, 2006 2:39 PM  

Anonymous kyels said...

It definitely was sad, 9/11. Everything was unpredictable and unexpectable. When I first heard the news on telly, I thought I was dreaming but hell, I was not. Looking at the bombings and how the WTC came to Ground Zero devastated me even though I was not a US citizen but still the impact was great. And for the next few days, all I did was checking sites and papers for news and it pissed me off because so many innocent lives were taken away.

And for today, I hope that those who had suffered their lost will forever remain brave and steady and may all the souls rest in peace. Let's hope such tragedies will not happen again. Everyone should be united.

But it's just sad to see the world coming to such a state.

):

September 11, 2006 2:49 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

How true, Ipanema. Tragedy does have a drawing effect on us humans. Though sometimes I ask myself why we need a tragedy for us to do that.

A lot of sad stories involved in this madness. And there are still lingering adverse effects.

September 11, 2006 3:12 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Yes, Kyels, it wasn't only New York and Americans, but everyone in the entire world was affected by the magnitude of this madness.

This was a tragic phenomenon that must not be repeated anywhere else.

September 11, 2006 3:17 PM  

Anonymous kyels said...

Eric,

Yes, I do agree with you that it must not be repeated anywhere else. It's just so sad.

):

September 11, 2006 5:18 PM  

Anonymous JV said...

It was such a tragedy that I was in school and have heard the news. I immediately went back home to watch what have happened, I saw the plane crashing into the Pentagon and later, the 2nd plane that gave a devastating blow over WTC. But despite that, the US have become a stronger nation amidst what have happened 5 years ago. But still, the painful memories still reverberate over America and around the globe. God bless the US!

September 11, 2006 9:08 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Amen to that, Kyels :)



That is right, JV. And regardless of what others may think and feel about the U.S., what happened on 9/11 deeply affected many nations around the globe.

As Kyels and I were just saying, hope none of this ever occurs again anywhere else.

September 11, 2006 9:41 PM  

Blogger BW said...

It's truly sad.. I got a call from my wife who at that time was home on a 1 year maternity leave. I rushed to our company cafeteria to watch the TV... the tragedy is even felt more in our office, being an American owned company.

September 12, 2006 9:30 AM  

Anonymous bugsybee said...

Sad, Eric. If 9/11 can evoke emotions in us who are strangers to NY, I wonder how you must feel. Maybe you would have wanted to be there when it happened even if it was safer here (I know I would have wanted to be there).. a "local" would have wished that. Up to this time, I have this blue t-shirt which the doctor-boss of my best friend gave to her. They have a clinic in Manhattan and the doc was "called to duty" a few hours after 9/11. The shirt has "FDNY" emblazoned in red in front and in white letters at the back, it says "Keep Off 200 Ft". My friend explained that they gave these shirts to all 9/11 volunteers and her boss didn't wear his so I have it now. It's a treasured (but sad) reminder of 9/11.

September 12, 2006 11:08 AM  

Anonymous Major Tom said...

9/11 is such a harrowing incident that hearing stories after stories of those who have suffered thru the loss of their loved ones still makes my heart heavy, even up to this time.

In the news about two days ago, I've heard how they replayed recorded calls of those who were trapped (and died) inside the World Trade Center buildings. If it were up to me, I hoped they wouldn't have to let the public hear such very affecting recordings...including who had screamed the minute the building started to collapse so suddenly.

September 12, 2006 3:36 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

I can imagine how upsetting that whole scene was for you guys, BW, especially since it's an American company that you work for. It was really numbing :(

September 12, 2006 3:49 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

I did go though some of that dreaded survivor's guilt syndrome, Bugsybee, and so did a lot of New Yorkers I know. I have colleagues who perished from that horrific incident.

September 12, 2006 3:51 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Yes, Major Tom, I was also mortified when some cable news programs began airing those 911 phone calls. This is the reason why in my entry, I focused more on what people did to start their healing process. I spared my readers the horror of detailed accounts of what happened to those I knew.

It was a sad sad moment in our modern history ... and I pray such madness never happen again in any part of our planet.

September 12, 2006 3:56 PM  

Anonymous aurea said...

My husband lived in NY on 9/11. I had just moved to Boston. From my husband's 125th street apartment, he could see a plume of smoke from the World Trade Center.

I thought there was a tiny, tiny chance he'd be at the WTC that day. The previous month, my cousin and brother visited, and I suggested they go up to the top of the WTC. They only used half their tickets, and gave the unused tickets to us. So I still have tickets to visit the top of the WTC, which, sadly cannot be used anymore.

September 13, 2006 1:54 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Thank God, he was nowhere near it that day, Aurea. But I, too, would bring out of town guests to World Trade Center. I guess it was because it was near Chinatown. They also had a branch of TICKETS at the lobby where one could buy discounted tickets for Broadways shows or plays. However, last time I was over there, I was very much impressed at the way they had refurbished the underground shopping area.

September 13, 2006 9:02 AM  

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