Tag Archives: New Yorker

A trio of tributes

Detail of artwork by theater students at Arizona School for the Arts

Detail of artwork by theater students at Arizona School for the Arts

In Tempe Beach Park, a flag is flying for each person who perished in the attacks of September 11, 2001. So too in Battery Park, New York — where stripes on the flags have been replaced by the names of those killed, and people gathered Saturday morning to form a human chain of solidarity and remembrance.

Candlelight vigils in Scottsdale and countless cities throughout the world are honoring those lost, as well as those who remain. A beam from the World Trade Center is being installed at a Gilbert memorial, and a sculpture crafted of three sections of WTC buildings has been unveiled in London’s Battersea Park — a tribute to the 67 Britons lost that day.

Detail of Tiles for America exhibit in New York City

But it’s a trio of tributes, our country’s permanent memorials to 9/11, that most will visit in coming days, decades and beyond. One in Pennsylvania. One in New York. One in Washington, D.C.

I was particularly moved while watching a live C-SPAN broadcast of the dedication ceremony Saturday morning for the Flight 93 National Memorial in Pennsylvania, where the heroism of everyday Americans was honored by dignitaries, artists, family members and others.

Poet Robert Pinsky read two works — “Souvenir of the Ancient World” by Carlos Drummond de Andrade and “Incantation” by Czeslaw Milosz. The second was interrupted at our house by a call from the National Republican Party. The timing made my stomach turn.

Art from one of two Tiles for America exhibits in NYC

I heard an interview with George Packer, who has a piece titled “Coming Apart” in the Sept 12, 2011 issue of New Yorker magazine, on NPR today. He noted that two things he’d hoped might change about America in the aftermath of 9/11 are much the same. Our partisan politics and the growing gap between America’s rich and poor.

I hope our national 9/11 memorials will help to change that. Reminding us of what we have in common. Reminding us that every person matters. Reminding us to volunteer in service to others. Reminding us to be grateful.

During the “New York Says Thank You” documentary broadcast on local FOX affiliates Saturday evening, several people involved with the “I Will” campaign shared ways they’ll be honoring those directly affected by 9/11.

More street art from Tiles for America

Actor Mariska Hargitay plans to volunteer at her local domestic violence shelter. A teen girl says she’ll “clean up my room.” A middle-aged man plans to plant a tree at the Flight 93 National Memorial. And a woman about my age says simply, “I will forgive.”

The Friends of Flight 93 and the National Parks Service (which operates the Flight 93 National Memorial) are partnering with the Fred M. Rogers Center at Saint Vincent’s College in Pennsylvania for an October event titled “9/11 Forum: Impact on Young Children.” And folks far and wide have started discussions about incorporating 9/11 into school curriculum materials.

My “I Will” is following the developments of the trio of tributes best known to Americans and sharing them with our readers, not just on 9/11 but throughout the year. But also the everyday stories of children, families, teachers, artists and others working to make September 12 and every day that follows a day of healing, humility and hope.

— Lynn

Note: Learn more about the Flight 93 National Memorial at www.npca.org and www.honorflight93.org, the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial at www.pentagonmemorial.org and the 9/11 Memorial in NYC at www.911memorial.org. All three appreciate gifts of time and money as they move forward honoring those affected by 9/11. Learn about “I Will” at www.911day.org.  Watch eight artists “talk about how that day and its aftermath have informed their work and lives” at www.nytimes.com/interactive/2011/09/02/us/sept-11-reckoning/artists.html?ref=arts.

Coming up: A photo tour of memorials at Phoenix’s Wesley Bolin Plaza

9/11 books for children

Books I encountered during a June visit to the 9/11 Memorial Preview Site near the World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan

Captain Bob Badgett of the Gilbert Fire Department, whose two children are in their early 20s, spent part of Wednesday this week at Finley Farms Elementary School. He was one of several volunteers who read to 4th graders as part of the town’s “Week of Tribute to 9/11.” www.gilbertaz.gov/911memorial.

Badgett read a book titled “Fireboat: The Heroic Adventures of the John J. Harvey” by Maira Kalman of Manhattan, who “was born in Tel Aviv and moved to New York with her family at the age of four.” She’s written and illustrated thirteen children’s books —  the latest a collaboration with Lemony Snicket titled “13 WORDS.” www.mairakalman.com.

“Fireboat” is the true tale of a boat in 1931 New York that’s eventually retired for a time — until called back into service in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center. Its crew includes a dog named “Smokey,” which makes me feel only slightly better about the fact that I often call the book “Firedog” by mistake. www.fireboat.org.

I first stumbled on “Fireboat” in June, while visiting the 9/11 Memorial Preview Site near Ground Zero in Lower Manhattan — where it was diplayed close to teddy bears wearing NYPD or FDNY shirts and other items honoring 9/11 first responders.

The 9/11 Memorial will open to 9/11 families this Sunday (and others, with online reservations, the following day), but those of us who won’t be in NYC can still support the cause by shopping for 9/11-related books and other items online. www.911memorial.org.

I like the idea of keeping these books handy year-round rather than pulling them out only with the advent of 9/11 anniversary dates. My books on Abraham Lincoln weren’t put away between President’s Day holidays when my children were little, so why treat this historical event any differently?

Be sure you review 9/11-related books before sharing them with your child. “Fireboat” depicts the destruction of the twin towers, which some parents might not feel comfortable with. “Fireboat” is recommended for ages four and up, but you’re the best judge of what your own child can handle.

Badgett says the experience of reading “Fireboat” to fourth graders felt especially profound because almost all of them were born the year that 9/11 took place. “They have a deeper understanding of it than I thought,” reflects Badgett.

He was also impressed by the questions students asked. Do you remember where you were? Didn’t we catch the guy who masterminded this? “I wondered how deep to go with all this,” shares Badgett. It sounds like he kept it simple and very matter of fact in tone — as it should be.

It reminded me of the story about a child who asks a mom where babies come from only to get a full-blown anatomy lecture when a simple “we’ll bring her home from the hospital” would have done the trick. Still, it’s important not to skim over the event as if it never happened or has little significance.

“Kids need real and factual information,” observes Badgett. “If they don’t get it from us, they get misinformation from other places.” Badgett appreciates books like “Fireboat” because they “get kids the information in a non-threatening format.”

On the morning of 9/11, Badgett (then a firefighter in Scottsdale) was “off shift” — watching television at home while enjoying his morning coffee. After seeing the second tower get hit, Badgett brought his own children downstairs and told them what had happened. “That day all firefighters were on duty,” recalls Badgett.

The newest children’s book to explore the events of and after 9/11 is “14 Cows for America,” written by Carmen Agra Deedy and illustrated by Thomas Gonzalez. Wilson Kimel Naiyomah collaborated on the book, which is aimed at 6-10 year olds.

It’s the true story of a Maasai student in New York who witnessed 9/11 — then shared the experience with villagers after returning home to Kenya. The tragedy inspired them to make a precious gift to America. It was their cows. www.14cowsforamerica.com.

Many children offered gifts of words and art in the weeks and months following 9/11. Some found their way into books like “September 12th: We Knew Everything Would Be All Right,” “Do Not Be Sad: A Chronicle of Healing,” “What Will You Do For Peace?” and “Messages to Ground Zero: Children Respond to September 11, 2001.” Also “Art for Heart” and “The Day Our World Changed.”

We like to believe that we read books about 9/11 with our children to help them make sense of the world. In reality, we’re the ones still struggling to understand. 

— Lynn

Coming up: Talking with kids about 9/11, Review: 14 Cows for America, Broadway remembers 9/11

A week of firsts

A favorite photo from Lizabeth's recent East coast travels

A favorite photo from Lizabeth's recent East coast travels

My 17-year-old daughter Lizabeth recently finished the East coast leg of her college theater program auditions — and had just one day at home (and school) before traveling to auditions in Western states.

Before heading off to school between trips, she presented me with gifts she’d chosen at the NBC store. Lizabeth is a third generation Arizonan whose grandmother once worked for NBC in NYC.

They’re humble gifts in terms of monetary value, which is a good thing for parents soon to have three children in college — but they’re rich in meaning.

The first is a magnet with the beaming Gilda Radner in all her SNL “Roseanne Rosannadanna” glory. Perhaps now Lizabeth understands all my references to the character during my many “big hair” days.

The second is a black coffee cup — an homage to a love affair ended too suddenly with wordsmith and advocate for the everyman Keith Olbermann. It’s a “Countdown” cup with quips like “Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?”

Interesting timing considering that I shot off an e-mail just the other night to the broadcaster whose show fills the once upon a time “Countdown” hour. He’d apologized for offending folks with a piece on “sports socialism” — which I consider a commentary of true genius.

I ponder the fate of Valley arts in education every time I drive by a huge sports field full of bright lights long after players have gone home for the day. Would that our schools had performing arts centers even half that glorious.

But my letter to MSNBC suggested that another apology might be in order — from broadcaster Ed Schultz, who stigmatizes people with mental illness during every single episode with a segment called “Psycho Talk.”

That’s no “first,” of course, since it happens countless times a day over the airwaves and in everyday conversations. So let me return to another “first” I was recently delighted to find.

My mother-in-law deserves the credit for this one — a little book from the editors of New York magazine, titled “My First New York” which she first found at the local “Anthropologie” store. (Who knew grandmothers shopped such hip locales?)

Its preface notes that “the book started out as a magazine feature that, like the city it celebrated, soon grew a bit crowded for its size.”

A bit like that first outing with Lizabeth to see a Broadway show touring at ASU Gammage in Tempe — which has snowballed into her full-blown love affair with acting and musical theater (and all things NYC).

“My First New York” shares the early NYC encounters of dozens of folks now famous — including artists, filmmakers, actors, musicians, comedians, writers, choreographers and more.

Think Paul Taylor, Tommy Tune, Liza Minelli, Tom Wolfe, Judy Collins, Chuck Close, Ira Glass, Audra Mcdonald and Michael Lucas (best that the kids not know about this last one).

We got another first this same week — of the medical variety. I remarked while chatting with a source for a print piece recently that my kids have seen docs in nearly every medical specialty except oncology. But that’s no longer the case.

In lighter moments, I can snag a glimpse at the Roseanne Rosannadanna phrase that now graces my refrigerator door: “It just goes to show you, it’s always something.”

But as anyone whose children have faced serious illness can tell you, cancer is no laughing matter. It brings too many “firsts” families wish they never had to face.

As I ponder the many firsts that have recently come our way — from the delightful to the dreadful — I’m hoping with all my heart that you’re treasuring every tender first for your own growing family.

First smiles. First steps. First words.

First fingerpainting. First day of school.

First dance class. First music recital. First theater outing.

These are the firsts that give us courage to face the future.

— Lynn

Note: Gilda Radner lost her life to ovarian cancer, but her journey has inspired countless others — including “Gilda’s Club.” Click here to learn about the “Noogieland” program for children living with cancer. Click here for information on the 20th anniversary release of Radner’s memoir titled “It’s Always Something.”

Coming up: Building bridges