On September 11, 2001 I sat in front of my television witnessing the annihilation of the youngest of my five children. Joshua was to have been married on September 15th. As I watched the smoke pouring out of the Trade Center’s North Tower I screamed hysterically, “Run Joshua!” but I knew he was gone. Not a day goes by when I do not think of him and the horrific act that took him from me.

As the second anniversary approaches I cannot help but to think of the past 24 months. The first year went by in a state of numbness. This the second year has actually been more difficult. I suppose the reality and enormity of it all has set in. Now that the dust has literally settled I need to look closely at where we are at this point in time.

Two weeks after 9/11 I delivered the eulogy at Joshua’s memorial service. I made it clear that war is not the answer as killing and hatred only breeds more killing and hatred. In order for this world to survive we must begin to eradicate this antipathy through education. Two years later, under the guise of wiping out terrorism, America (against world opinion) went to “war,” with first Afghanistan. and then Iraq. Perhaps there is something very wrong with my thought process. but I do not understand. nor do I see what we accomplished that could be considered positive. Bombs or rockets or whatever it is that was used during these actions fell from the sky onto the homes and heads of thousands of people, most of whom were clearly not terrorists. What makes this any different than an airplane flying into the World Trade Center? Because these people were citizens of Afghanistan or Iraq, were they less innocent than my son, or any other American, who perished on September11th? Is their pain and need diminished simply because they are different from us? “Do they not bleed when they are pricked?”

So two years later, here I am, sending the same message—only now, because my resolve is stronger, my message grows louder. The acts committed on September 11th should have been the world’s ultimate wake-up call. Revenge has only brought more death. With the nuclear, biological and chemical weapons that exist, how will this all end? When it’s all over, will there be anyone left to carry the message? The announcement that the bodies of Sadam Huessin’s sons had been identified–should this make me happy? Will this end the conflicts? Will this bring about a marked change in the world situation?

Those who died on 9/11 have been called heroes. If asked to describe Joshua, the word “hero” would probably not be considered. He was many wonderful things, and perhaps given the chance, he might have done something heroic. But on that day, he simply did what he did: he was a responsible young man, sitting at his desk in the offices of Cantor Fitzgerald on the 104th floor.

It has also been said that the deaths of these men and women were not in vain. When differences are settled through the use of talk and compromise, not through the use of weapons; when we understand there is room on this Earth for all beliefs; when we acknowledge the right of existence for all peoples; when we finally begin to achieve world peace, then will I believe Joshua’s death may have served some purpose.

Sue Rosenblum
Mother of Joshua
Ft. Lauderdale, Florida

…………………….

THEY’LL LIVE THROUGH US


We, who can only watch and pray.
We, who will live another day.
Pay tribute to those whose lives were lost.

We, who cannot understand the reason why,
Those innocent victims had to die,
Pay tribute to those brave souls now gone.

We who remain, promise this to you.
That.. whatever else we do,
We’ll keep you alive in our hearts.

Wherever we are, whatever we do,
We’ll stop for a moment and think of you.
And you’ll live again through us.

By: J Chettle, UK – September 13, 2001

…………………….

I heard somebody say
That the war ended today
But everybody knows it’s goin’ still

Our motherlands and motherseas
Here’s what we believe
It’s simple
We don’t want to kill

I heard somebody say
That the war ended today
But everybody knows its goin’ still

Our motherlands and motherseas
Here’s what we believe
It’s simple
We don’t want to kill

Oh, it’s simple
We don’t want to kill
Oh, it’s simple
We don’t want to kill
Oh, it’s simple

–Devendra Banhart

……………………………..

 

Eulogy for Firefighter Graffagnino

To Linda, to young Mia and Joseph, and to the rest of Joseph’s family, let me begin by

extending my deepest sympathy. I can’t imagine the pain and the grief that is in your

hearts.

But during this time of great sorrow, I hope you can find comfort in the profound

gratitude of the people of New York. Every New Yorker is with you today.

None of us will ever forget what happened last Saturday, the day when September 11,

2001—our worst collective nightmare—leapt from the shadows and cruelly claimed two

more lives.

Just like on 9/11, black smoke poured from a building downtown, and firefighters rushed

to the scene, fighting bravely despite unimaginably difficult conditions. Just like on 9/11,

neighbors, friends, family members and heroes have been taken from us. And—just like

on 9/11—the sorrow and anger we feel is more than we can bear. No words can do justice

to the sacrifice that has been made or to the sadness that we feel.

Yet, even in the depths of our grief, we know there is more than sorrow here: there is

valor, there is virtue and there is honor. So today, we pause to celebrate the life of one of

our best citizens.

* * *

While I never had the honor of meeting Joseph, I have been amazed at how many New

Yorkers have been touched by his life.

How many people can say at the age of 33 that they are part of the bedrock of their

community and a revered icon in their neighborhood? There is not a dry eye in Dyker

Heights today. No one here will ever forget how Joseph’s daily acts of kindness and

generosity—sharing a story to brighten the day of a friend or shopkeeper, shoveling a

neighbor’s walkway in winter, or embracing his position as a role model for

neighborhood kids—helped make this neighborhood such a special place. His legacy will

live on in every home, on every sidewalk, in every yard, and on every corner of this

wonderful neighborhood.

Most of all, Joseph will be remembered as a family man. Indeed, Joseph loved and

treasured his family in a special way.

I was heartbroken to read a newspaper account in which a neighbor remembered how

Joseph would carry Mia on his shoulders. The neighbor cried: who will carry Mia now?

The answer is: all of us will. Mia, every New Yorker will carry you—and young

Joseph—on our shoulders—today and forever.

When someone praised Joseph Graffagnino for his public service, he would have been

the first to tell you that he was an ordinary New Yorker.

Yet in 1999, he made a decision that showed extraordinary bravery and courage: he

joined the New York City Fire Department. He was a nozzle man, praised by his

commanders as “strong as an ox.” Firefighters are a special brotherhood, the bonds of

which are formed by the omnipresence of danger—and Joseph was a beloved member of

that brotherhood.

But nothing exemplifies Joseph’s greatness as a citizen more than his ultimate sacrifice.

The events of that tragic day should remind us of the incredible bravery of firefighters

everywhere.

When a former President spoke to families of fallen firefighters, he would often quote a

passage from the book of Isaiah. In this passage, God asks: “Whom shall I send, and who

will go for us?” And Isaiah replies: “Here am I. Send me.”

When there’s a fire anywhere in this city or in this state, our firefighters reply: “Send

me.”

When the call came on September 11—when terrorists cruelly and coldly attacked our

city and the lives of untold thousands were in danger—the men and women of the Fire

Department did not hesitate in replying: “Send me.”

And on August 18, when the call came again, Firefighters Joseph Graffagnino and Robert

Beddia did not waver. They simply replied: “Send me.”

As they sped from their station in SoHo to the burning tower, they followed the same trail

their fallen brothers had followed six years before. As they approached Ground Zero and

first glimpsed the smoke, how could they not have thought back to that day? Yet they

jumped from their trucks, strapped the air tanks to their backs, and did not hesitate to

engage with that horror once again. But tragically, the flames that erupted on a bright

Tuesday morning in September 2001 reached across history and claimed their lives.

Today, as we mourn Joseph’s sacrifice, console his loving family, and celebrate his

memory, let us also make a resolution, a commitment to ourselves and to one another:

Let us commit to being worthy of the courage and bravery that he showed.

Let us begin by uncovering the truth about what happened, demanding answers to the

unanswered questions, and then doing whatever is necessary to make sure a tragedy like

this one never happens again.

Let us take down that building—an accursed reminder of so much suffering and loss—as

quickly and safely as possible.

 

Let us pause and pay tribute to all of our firefighters, who have forsaken a life of material

gain, safety and comfort and chosen to enter the most dangerous arena of all so their

fellow citizens can be protected. Can there be a better definition of heroism than that?

Let us pay special tribute to the men and women of Engine 24 and Ladder 5, who—

despite the tragedies of March 1994 and September 2001 and all the others that will never

grab the headlines—continue to bravely put their lives on the line when the call sounds.

Let us hold Joseph up as an example for how we should live our own lives—with valor

and courage, but also with compassion, sacrifice and love.

Finally, in the most difficult moments, when we are confronted by tragedy that we cannot

understand, in the depths of sorrow and anger we cannot begin to describe, let us

remember the words of the Scripture: “The souls of the just are in the hands of God.”

Joseph, may you rest in peace

 

Towers of Life

They stood hushed and glimmering in the night,
Giants able to frame the moon,
Slumbering magnificently in their might.

Day breaks and the sun gently warms their skin,
Veins begin to pulse with life,
The sprit of a thousand of kin.

Evil tears towards them through the brilliant morning sky,
Propelled by the blackest of hate,
Guided by a lie.

Barely risen they stand with no defense,
Innocent and distracted they are not prepared,
The pain about to be inflicted intense.

Like a bolt of lighting that shatters the morn,
Evil crashes once then twice into their sides,
Their bodies are scorched and torn.

Horribly crippled they continue to stand,
Holding onto life until the last,
Orders are given, they take the command.

The battle is brief, the giants begin to yield,
Life drains from every artery,
Their fate is sealed.

Collapsing to zero,
First to one knee then to the next,
From their dust will emerge so many a hero.

The question is asked,
How can such evil exist.
JDK

……………………………….

The hungry and the hanged
The damaged and the done
Striving ‘long this spinning rock
Tumbling past the sun
Get through this life without killing anyone
And consider yourself golden

Lost a friend to cocaine
Couple friends to smack
Troubled hearts map deserts
And they rarely do come back
Lost a friend to oceans
Lost a friend to hills
Lost a friend to suicide
Lost a friend to pills
Lost a friend to monsters
Lost a friend to shame
Lost a friend to marriage
Lost a friend to blame
Lost a friend to worry
And lost a friend to wealth
Lost a friend to stubborn pride
And then I lost myself

I love my dog and she loves me
The world’s a mess and so are we
She tumbles long green, muddy fields
Sick with joy and glee
And as she dreams sweet puppy dreams
Whimpering gently

There’s fresh meat in the club tonight
God bless our dead marines
Someone had an accident above the burning trees
While somewhere distant, peacefully
Our vulgar princes sleep
Dead kids don’t get photographed
God bless this century

When the world is sick
Can’t no one be well?
But I dreamt we was all beautiful and strong

When the world is sick
Can’t no one be well?
But I dreamt we was all beautiful and strong

When the world is sick
Can’t no one be well?
But I dreamt we was all beautiful and strong…

–A Silver Mount Zion

…………………………………

If I knew it was the last time we would all would be together…
If I knew it was the last time for the smiles and the laughter…
If I knew it was the last time to look into your eyes…
If I knew it wat the last time to stand by your side..

I would have talked longer, smiled wider, laughed louder,
looked deeper and held you for an eternity.

(Alex’s birthday, Sept 3rd, 2001)

Love Joni

By Joan Brady

…………………………….

July 1986 I stood miles in the air looking down at New York. The cars and
people were no bigger than small ants. It was quite a sight from the World
trade center, one I’ll never forget. Having fallen off a cliff three years
before, my anxiety levels were still very high at being up in the air so
high.

September 11th 2001 began as an unremarkable day. I was visiting my friend
in Helston Cornwall. He owns a gift shop so he was working and I was
helping and making cups of tea. The events that unfolded in that early
afternoon in England were unexpected. The tea was hot and so was my toast.
We stood in the kitchen drinking tea in disbelief watching the twin towers
in smoke. It was a surreal moment which I will never forget. I was already
planning to emigrate to USA at this stage, so this came as a shock. Our
initial feelings were “what has happened?” “Why has this happened?” and “Of
course there would be a war now.”

September 11th 2006 is another Monday morning. My train snaked in amongst
the concrete and steel of the “ground zero” site. The place is a building
site so as you can imagine it is rather unattractive. Dust and concrete and
steel are pretty much all there is at the place where the twin towers once
stood. On this morning as I approached the train station I saw crowds of
people. VIPs lined the central construction area. As I arrived it was
obvious a service or rememberance was occurring. Being late for work I
rushed out of the train. As I traversed the stairs I heard a church bell
ring ominously. The feel of New Yorkers in mourning swept over me. I saw
t-shirts stating “Investigate 9/11” I saw people in logos of the NY fire
department and a few people in full military uniform.

New Yorkers pride themselves on facing adversity and getting on with the job
in hand; a bit like our own English “stiff upper lip.” So whilst I could
feel these tangible feelings of remorse and sorrow, I could also feel the
sentiment of this simply being another day.

As seekers I think we should take a moment to pause, a time to
reflect. However
you choose to do so is unimportant. Today is not a day to point fingers and
to be angry. Today is a day to reflect and be swept with love. However you
are remembering today may you do it sincerely and with joy.

—Br. Benjamin Assisi Sept 11th 2006


Paper Aeroplanes


paper aeroplanes
folded
and became lilies
smoked on the sidewalk

delicate stems
twined; bent
towards sunlight

tiny white petals
rested on concrete
that of headstones
and rubble

and they were

lost
in a mess of
tangled metal

where sunlight
was too far
to reach

By: Nat Scroggie

(To those who lost their lives on September the eleventh in the collapse of the world trade centre).

 

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