Tag Archives: World Trade Center

Refugee tales

While driving through a parking lot Tuesday morning, I spied a small delivery truck with colorful faces painted on two sides — along with the words “Welcome to America.” This is one of those moments my children dread, because they know two things are about to happen. First, I’m going to whip out my camera. And second, I’m going to go in search of the artist. What I call serendipitous, they consider strange.

Jennifer might have felt differently about this encounter, because I ended up introducing myself to a man who was walking towards the truck — only to discover he’s the driver for an organization called The Welcome to America Project, which delivers donated furniture and other household goods to refugees who have recently located to the Phoenix area.

Turns out there’s a United Nations connection that would fascinate Jennifer, an ASU student in cultural anthroplogy who dreams of working for the U.N. one day. There’s a 9/11 connection too — because The Welcome to America Project was started by Phil and Carolyn Manning after Phil’s brother Terence Manning lost his life in the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center.

Seems the Mannings were searching for a way to honor his memory by making a positive difference in the community when they saw the photo of a political refugee family from Afghanistan on a local news report. Each “realized this family sought the same things they did – safety, housing and a future free of fear for their children.” Soon they were collecting clothing and household items on the family’s behalf.

To date, their non-profit organization (described by the truck driver I met as a “mom and pop” operation) has engaged thousands of volunteers in helping 1,200 refugee families. This week they’re scheduled to assist two families originally from Bhutan who lived for many years in Nepal before coming to America, plus a single woman from Sri Lanka who survived a bombing that killed her brother and father.

The Welcome to America Project also holds special events that raise funds for aiding refugees. Last year’s “prom” had a Broadway musical theme, so I’m eager to see what they come up with for the 2012 version, taking place April 21 at the St.  Patrick’s Catholic Community Center in Scottsdale.

They’re kicking off a 2012 Cultural Dinner Series this Sun, March 11, with “A Night in Havana” at Orangewood Church in Phoenix. The event is “is designed to give Phoenix residents a rare glimpse into the complex history and culture of Cuba.” Think “dance performances, poems, cuisine, colorful clothing and firsthand accounts of the struggles and strength of Cuban refugees building new lives here in Arizona.”

Tuesday’s encounter with Jack Bigus (whose business card simply reads “driver”) reinforces a philosophy I’ve long embraced while exploring Arizona arts and culture — Follow the art, Follow your heart.

— Lynn

Note: Click here for information on refugees to the United States from the Cultural Orientation Resource Center

Coming up: More NYC travels

Visiting the national 9/11 memorial

One of several 9/11 memorial images visitors see as they walk the long path to the entrance

My daughter Lizabeth, a college freshman studying acting at Pace University, called home shortly after she’d visited the newly-opened 9/11 memorial with a group of fellow students. It was clear she’d been teary-eyed – genuinely moved by the enormous losses of that day.

It’s hard to grasp all that is “Ground Zero” until you see it with your own eyes, and those of us who didn’t lose a loved one will never truly understand the depth of grief wrought by the terrorist attacks of that day. But we can honor those lost with a simple act – remembering.

Knowing that I’ve long followed events surrounding development of the 9/11 memorial and museum, Lizabeth took her camera along so she could snap a few photos. She quickly decided, however, that taking pictures felt wrong somehow. This is a place where thousands of Americans died. It’s not, she told me, a tourist attraction.

Parents feel especially proud during such moments. I listened intently as Lizabeth described the experience of walking through the memorial grounds. Every turn brings more and more names of people who died that day. And powerful waves of emotion.

View across a 9/11 memorial reflecting pool on Sept. 12, 2011

I thought of Lizabeth as my husband James drove me to the airport last Wednesday morning. As soon as passes to the memorial became available, he thoughtfully reserved a pair so I could experience the site with Lizabeth during my trip to NYC. “Do you think it’s tacky to take photos,” I asked. “No,” he said, “I’m sure lots of people take pictures of the memorial.”

“That doesn’t answer my question,” I replied. For once I felt like the lawyer in the family. “Thousands of people died there,” I said. “It’s really a grave site.” He reminded me that people photograph cemeteries all the time. I’m guilty of that myself, of course – but that didn’t make me feel any better about it.

I recalled trips to Washington, D.C. and the many photos I’ve taken at Arlington Memorial Ceremony. Like most people, I photograph the things that have special meaning or the things I most want to remember. For me it’s the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the eternal flame marking John F. Kennedy’s grave.

Though I planned to visit the 9/11 memorial with Lizabeth last Friday, I ended up going alone on Thursday night after walking by a memorial gift shop near the site where someone had extra passes for admission that evening. I knew Lizabeth wouldn’t mind me going alone, and I was eager to experience the memorial under a starry sky.

View across a 9/11 memorial reflecting pool towards the 9/11 museum

Somehow the darkness amplifies all that steel and water, with all the trees and all those names — backlit after nightfall. Two names, in particular, stand out — belonging to two women listed with the words “and unborn child.” A pair of tridents from the “twin towers” inside the 9/11 museum are beautifully lit and visible through the transparent walls of the museum, which will open once completed.

I stayed at a hotel adjacent to the World Trade Center construction site — where I started and ended each day with time spent watching the work in progress that holds such significance for our nation. Giant cranes moving back and forth. Workers in orange and yellow vests dotting the sight both day and night.

A steady stream of patriotic pilgrims head to the site and surrounding areas each day — negotiating crowded streets with everyday New Yorkers bustling between home, office and other haunts. For all the deaths wrought that terrible day ten Septembers ago, this is a place full of life and focused on the future.

— Lynn

Note: Several Arizona cities, including Gilbert and Phoenix, have their own 9/11 memorials. Click here to see images from the National 9/11 Memorial webcam, and here to learn more about the National 9/11 Memorial & Museum.

Coming up: Exploring memorials at Wesley Bolin Plaza in Phoenix

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 meets Arizona arts and culture

This work by Sam Irving is one of several you can enjoy at exhibits at two Gilbert libraries this week (Photo courtesy of Gilbert Fire Department)

The town of Gilbert is preparing for Sunday’s dedication of a 9/11 memorial to feature an 8-foot long beam from the World Trade Center.

Recently they invited folks to submit photographs, paintings and drawings with a “Memory of Hope” theme. Selected works are on exhibit through 9/11 at the Southeast Regional and Perry High libraries. www.gilbertaz.gov/911memorial.

One of several works currently on exhibit at the Tucson Jewish Community Center

Contemporary Artists of Southern Arizona has created a mixed media 9/11 memorial called “3,000 Souls” that’s being exhibited at the Tucson Jewish Community Center through Sept 26. ww.tucsonjcc.org/arts.

The ceramics program and fine arts department at Desert Vista High School in Phoenix (part of the Tempe Unified High School District) presents a 9/11 memorial Thurs, Sept 9 from 6-9pm (room 149).

The event features “students from dance and theatre,
choir, speech and band, a special slide and musical tribute, the
signing of victims’ names into a tribute vessel to be delivered to New
York in December, and fundraising for the WTC Health Hospital.” The event is free and open to the public. www.desertvista.schoolfusion.us.

Several 9/11-related items, including a huge “National Unity Flag” designed and created in Arizona, will be exhibited Sept 9-16 in the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts atrium.

A “9/11 Memorial Wall” with 2,996 full-color memorial cards featuring biographical information and photographs of 9/11 victims will be exhibited as well.

Scottsdale begins a “9/11 Day of Remembrance” program in the atrium at 1pm on Sun, Sept 11 with a reading of victims’ names.

Keynote speaker Ray Malone, a former New York police office and firefighter, follows in the Virginia G. Piper Theater at 6pm. The evening also includes performances of patriotic music by school bands and choral groups, as well as a candlelight vigil. www.scottsdaleaz.gov.

ProMusica performs with other Valley groups this weekend

ProMusica Arizona Chorale and Orchestra of Anthem will perform Mozart’s “Requiem” (a work being performed by groups throughout the country on 9/11) at two Valley churches on Sun, Sept 11. www.promusicaaz.org.

Mozart’s “Requiem” is also being performed at a “Remembrance and Renewal” concert at UA’s Centennial Hall in Tucson on Sun, Sept 11 at 3pm. It features the Tucson Symphony Orchestra and Tucson Chamber Artists’ professional choir. www.uapresents.org.

The Damocles Trio, who met as doctoral students at The Juilliard School in NYC, will perform the “Requiem Trio” by Spanish composer Salvador Brotons (b.1959) at Tempe Center for the Arts at 2:30pm on Sun, Sept 11.

The work was “written especially for the group to commemorate the tragic terrorist attack of Sept. 11, 2001.” The piece was first performed in Sept 11, 2004 in NYC.

Tempe officials note that “this concert will be linked to the Tempe Beach Park 9/11 Healing Field and other city commemoration events.” The concert also features the music of Dvorak and Villa Lobos. www.damoclestrio.com and www.friendsofTCA.org.

The Tucson Pops Orchestra, with guest conductor George Hanson, performs “Americana: Remember 9/11” Sun, Sept 11 at Reid Park in Tucson at 6:30pm. www.sept11tucson.org.

The National Unity Flag will hang in Scottsdale this weekend

Folks looking for additional 9/11 memorials and related events can check with local interfaith or religious groups, performing arts venues, universities or colleges, museums, local governments and community centers for local offerings.

If your Arizona organization is presenting a music, dance, theater or visual arts event in remembrance of 9/11, please comment below to let our readers know.

— Lynn

Note: Several 9/11 remembrance events will be televised, including a New York Philharmonic concert with Alan Gilbert conducting Mahler’s “Resurrection” (Sept 11 on PBS). Listen to KJZZ 91.5 all week for 9/11 memorial coverage (including 9 hours of live coverage on 9/11). www.kjzz.org. Watch the “9/11: 10 Years Later” concert live Thurs, Sept 8 and share your reflections with others at facebook.com/KennedyCenter by clicking on the 9/11 Livestream tab.

Coming up: Remembering 9/11 with literature and love

Kids remember 9/11

This 9/11 Peace Story Quilt on exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art was designed by Faith Ringgold. It features three panels created by NYC students ages 8-19.

Folks in NYC have plenty of art-related opportunities to reflect on the 10th anniversary of 9/11 this week. An art installation “made from 9/11 dust” and paintings “which contain ash from ground zero.” A quilt featuring NYC’s skyline and a quilt with three panels crafted by NYC students (pictured above). www.metmuseum.org.

A roving memorial called “Dances for Airports.” A concert for peace featuring the Juilliard String Quartet. A release of balloons inscribed with poetry in several languages. Even a human chain open to anyone who wants to join hands in Battery Park at 8:46am on Sept 10.

Work by a student from the Calhoun School class of 2006

My favorite events and exhibits feature the words and works of youth — like a series of collages created by 31 thirteen year olds who started 8th grade together at Calhoun School that tragic day. Their “9/11: Through Young Eyes,” a project coordinated by teachers Helen Bruno and Jessica Houston, will be exhibited at the D C Moore Gallery in Chelsea Sept 8 – Oct 8. www.dcmooregallery.com.

Several Arizona youth are participating in a community memorial service called “Moving Memories — Moving Forward.” The Sun, Sept 11 event is being presented by the Arizona Interfaith Movement, which seeks to “build bridges…through dialogue, service and the implementation of the Golden Rule.”

It’s taking place from 11:30am-12:30pm at the 9/11 memorial located at Wesley Bolin Plaza. The plaza is adjacent to the Arizona State Capitol at 17th Avenue and Adams Street just west of downtown Phoenix. Program highlights include remarks by Donna Killoughey Bird, a mother of two whose husband Gary Bird (a UA grad and longtime resident of Tempe) died in the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center.

High school student Kris Curtis will play the national anthem on trumpet after emcee Pat McMahon opens the ceremony. Following several prayers and speakers, ten children will “say the Golden Rule from ten different faith traditions.” www.azifm.org.

Eighth grade students from the Temple Emanu-El Kurn Religious School in Tucson will lead a “9/11 Interfaith Memorial Service” Sun, Sept 11 (10am) at Handmaker Jewish Services for the Aging. www.handmaker.org.

A new book titled “Art for Heart: Remembering 9/11” (with introduction by Alice M. Greenwald) features drawings, murals, paintings and poems by children who were affected by the terrorist attack.

“The Day Our World Changed: Children’s Art of 9/11” (by Robin F. Goodman, Ph.D. and Andrea Henderson Fahnestock) began as a project of the New York Child Study Center in NYC. It was published several years ago, but it’s every bit as compelling today.

Many of the works featured in “The Day Our World Changed” have been donated to the 9/11 Memorial Museum in Lower Manhattan, which first opens for families on 9/11 this year. The general public can visit the museum (with pre-purchased tickets due to high demand) starting 9/12. My daughter Lizabeth plans to tour the museum this week with other students from Pace University. www.911memorial.org.

NBC airs a Darlow Smithson Productions documentary titled “Children of 9/11” tonight, Sept 5, but folks who miss it can watch local listings for rebroadcast information. More than 3,000 children lost a parent on 9/11, and this special follows 11 of them for a period of one year.

The Day Our World Changed includes this work by Matthew Sussman

If you missed the Sept 1 broadcast of “What Happened? The Story of September 11, 2001,” a 30-minute Nickelodeon program geared for younger viewers, you can watch it online — then read an online discussion guide created by psychologist Robin H. Gurwitch, Ph.D. for Nickelodeon and the American Psychological Association. www.nicknews.com and www.parentsconnect.com.

Stories of more than 40 twins who lost a sibling on 9/11 are the subject of a BBC Wales documentary titled “Twins of the Twin Towers.” It’s being broadcast on Sun, Sept 11 on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN).

Be thoughtful, in the days ahead, about how much time you spend watching programs that show the traumatic events of 9/11 in graphic detail. Most aren’t suitable for children, and even kids who didn’t lose a loved one on 9/11 can feel traumatized by exposure to the events of that day.

— Lynn

Note: Donna Killoughey Bird will share her story several times in comings days. Hear her speak Tues, Sept 6 (noon) at the Mustang Library auditorium or Thurs, Sept 15 (6pm) at the Civic Center Library auditorium in Scottsdale (Register at www.scottsdaleaz.gov). Or meet her Sun, Sept 11 (3pm) at Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe, where she’ll be signing “Nothing Will Separate Us” (part of the proceeds go to scholarships, service awards and educational support for young adults). www.changinghands.com/event.

Coming up: 9/11 takes center stage, Children’s books inspired by 9/11

Update: Find a collection of children’s drawings from “The Day Our World Changed” at www.pbs.org/newshour/multimedia/911children

Keeping pace

My youngest daughter, Lizabeth, called Saturday night to tell me about her dorm in New York City. She’s attending Pace University, the closest university to Ground Zero in Lower Manhattan. Her room overlooks a lovely patch of green where she hopes to spot people walking their puppies.

But also Ground Zero, where construction continues on the new World Trade Center. Lizabeth has long lamented much of the country’s singular focus on death and destruction in the aftermath of 9/11. 

She’s focused on the future, eager to see hope and healing rise from the earth so shattered by hatred and loss. She’ll be witness to rebuilding of the World Trade Center each time she looks out her window and strolls the streets of Lower Manhattan.

A courtyard at the Pace NYC campus houses several works of sculpture, including this piece near a 9/11 memorial called the Book of Remembrance (at left)

While most of the events taking place in NYC this week are centered on the tragic losses wrought by 9/11, which we must all take care to remember collectively and alone, many reflect that yearning I see in Lizabeth to move from what has been to what can be. From the tragedy of destruction to the triumph of diversity.

The “91111 Moving Forward Project” invited children eight to 14 to take and upload photographs that “show New York as a city of diversity and forward movement, even during tragedy.” Accepted works are being displayed online and at various NYC locations through Sept 30. (www.notestrokes.com)

“The underlying purpose of the project is to impart things that are positive to young people that have been growing up in New York City since 9/11,” reflects project founder Thomas Riedl. “Young people that have been exposed to many negatives since then.”

The Pace University community will be participating in 9/11-related events in coming days, including several that are open to the public — photography exhibits, symposia, an oral history project and a memorial service. (www.pace.edu/paceremembers911)

This Book of Remembrance at Pace University in NYC lists the names of four students and 43 alumni killed in the 9/11 attacks

They’ll also remember four students and 43 alumni lost to 9/11 — with a reading of names, a release of 47 balloons, a candlelight vigil and more. A community viewing of memorial events at Ground Zero is scheduled for members of the Pace community on 9/11.

Perhaps because my own children were 8, 10 and 12 at the time of the attacks on 9/11, there’s a special place in my heart for the voices of young people directly affected by them. So one event taking place at Pace holds special appeal.

It’s a debut performance of “Ten Years Later: Voices from a Post-9/11 Generation Speak” — an exploration written by 13 young people ages nine to 21 that’ll take place on the stage where Bravo TV films its “Inside The Actors Studio.” Celebrities take note. These kids will be a tough act to follow.

— Lynn

Note: To learn more about the World Trade Center, visit www.wtc.com, www.panynj.gov/wtcprogress and www.911memorial.org/world-trade-center-history.

Coming up: The 9/11 memorial and museum takes shape, More 9/11 events featuring artworks by youth, Remembering 9/11 through arts and culture

Patriotism & pedestrians

This exhibit space in lower Manhattan gives visitors a taste of the National 9/11 Memorial & Museum scheduled to open to the public on September 12, 2011

Like many Americans, images from the tragic events of September 11, 2001, are seered into my soul. Until my recent trip to New York City, I continued to picture Ground Zero as a giant hole in the ground, as a place of emptiness. But when I went to see the site, that image I carry with me wasn’t there. Instead, I found patriotism and pedestrians.

View of World Trade Center construction zone from the 9/11 Memorial Preview Center

The area surrounding Ground Zero in lower Manhattan is teeming with people walking streets full of construction crews and their equipment. Business folk scurrying to and from work, tourists pausing to snap photos and young parents pushing strollers.

A family pauses at one of many windows in an enclosed pedestrian walkway that runs from one side of the World Trade Center construction zone to the other

Those who come to remember 9/11 have several options — including the World Trade Center Tribute Center and the 9/11 Memorial Preview Site, where I spent some time during my recent visit. The preview center was packed with people, many standing quiet and still — almost frozen in time as they must have been the day many of us watched events unfolding on our television screens.

This exhibit at the 9/11 Memorial Preview Site recounts each event and the time it took place

They were reading a timeline of 9/11 events that wraps around the top of the walls, watching video tape accounts of heroism, pausing to reflect over items like the shiny black shoes and crisp white hat that belonged to one of the firefighters who lost his life that day.

This model shows the buildings and reflecting pools taking shape at the WTC site

The completed museum will feature a memorial exhibit commemorating the lives of those who perished on September 11, 2001 and February 26, 1993 and will provide visitors with the opportunity to learn about the men, women and children who died.

Patches (including one from the Pima County Sheriff) are part of the Lady Liberty exhibit

The 9/11 Memorial Preview Site has a retail area where visitors can buy T-shirts, toys, books and more — many with an NYPD or FDNY theme. Even gold and silver leaves representing the 400 trees to be planted at the National 9/11 Memorial and Museum. I came home with several bookmarks and wristbands, plus information on how to purchase a cobblestone or paver for the memorial plaza.

This poster hangs in the gift shop area of the 9/11 Memorial Preview Site

But I came home with something more. A new image of America in the aftermath of 9/11. The hole in our collective soul is mending. The patriotism and pedestrians at Ground Zero affirm that, though we will never forget, we are forging a future fueled by freedom rather than fear.

— Lynn

Note: Click here for tips on talking with your children about 9/11

Coming up: Finding Frida, New Works Festival, Art meets All-Star Baseball

Update: The 9/11 Memorial is now open to the public (online reservations required) — the museum is still being completed.