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Remembering 9/11

IMG_6476Every year on this date I take time to remember, grieve, celebrate and honor the many heroes and those that lost their lives on September 11th, 2001. Thirteen years have flown by but the wounds are deep. 2,977 innocent people died on that day and they, as well as their families deserve to be remembered.

In addition, more than 1,400 first responders have also died since 9/11. There are many more that are sick and suffering.

I think it’s important on this day of remembrance to also remember the heroic men and women that have served our country and those that gave their lives in the days since 9/11 to protect our freedoms. To date, more than 8,000 American and Allied soldiers have died in post-9/11 wars.

A close up of the Last Column.

A close up of the Last Column.

 

How will you remember this tragic and historic day?

Here is a link to a list of ways you might participate in the National Day of Service and Remembrance.

The photographs I’m sharing here are images I took on the official opening day of the museum at the National September 11 Memorial and Museum in New York City on May 21, 2014.

You can see more images I shot that day by clicking here.

Even as the buildings collapsed, the slurry wall held back the water that would have flooded Lower Manhattan.

Even as the buildings collapsed, the slurry wall held back the water that would have flooded Lower Manhattan.

Tridents recovered from Ground Zero.

Tridents recovered from Ground Zero.

 

Ladder 3.

Ladder 3.

 

A lot has changed in our world since then. Some good, some bad. I can honestly say I don’t feel any safer today than I did immediately after the attacks. I will say though, that I think America needs to be very cautious and not let fear and hate win over reason when it comes to national security and our place in the world. War does not equal justice and war does not always protect us in the way it is intended.

In today’s world, it makes us a bigger target.

I miss the unity I felt in the days and months after 9/11. We came together as a nation then. With all that is happening in this country and around the world, we need that now more than ever.

Behind this wall lie the unidentified remains of many that perished on 9/11/01.

Behind this wall lie the unidentified remains of many that perished on 9/11/01.

NYC May 2014- Day Six: History

I woke up around 4:30 am and walked over to the Times Square Starbucks and got to watch crews setting up outside the Good Morning America studio for the Dancing With the Stars After Party.

It was overcast this morning but the rain held off, only drizzling occasionally throughout the day. We met our friends at 7:30 am and headed down for what, I was sure would be the most memorable part of our visit.

National September 11 Memorial & Museum The Museum was originally supposed to open in time for the tenth anniversary of 9/11 in 2011. Bureaucracy and funding got in the way, delaying the tireless efforts– but here we were, May 21, 2014, the official opening day– and I was lucky enough to be there.

The National September 11 Memorial & Museum.

The National September 11 Memorial & Museum.

When we arrived at the Memorial site, the hallowed ground where the World Trade Center once stood, still known by many as Ground Zero– I was taken aback to cross the street,  round the corner and find the Memorial Plaza open with free access. I visited the Memorial twice before, while it was completely fenced in, keep out anyone that did not have a pass or a ticket. In fact, this historic site had been completely caged in since the horrifying events of 9/11.

Now it has been set free. Open to the world. A beautiful public tribute to the many people that perished that day.

As we walked across the massive plaza, bagpipes were playing. The press were set up in a long row near the museum to capture the ceremonial unfurling of the National 9/11 Flag before it was carefully folded and carried past us through the museum doors.

A twisted piece of the facade steel from the North Tower, floors 93-96.

A twisted piece of the facade steel from the North Tower, floors 93-96.

We were among the first 50 members of the public to enter these sacred halls. I say sacred not only because of what the museum represents but also because it houses a repository of some 8,000 still unidentified human remains.

The museum is beautifully laid out. Upon entering, you must first go through airport-like security. From there you enter the sprawling entry hall where you are greeted by two twin steel tridents, salvaged from the North Tower facade, rising up against the glass framed backdrop of the memorial plaza towards the sky. This is just the beginning, leading you into and all-encompassing journey of sight and sound, taking you back in time to one of the darkest days in American history. It is a sobering reminder for those that lived through it– an important memorandum for those who were too young and the many future generations to come.

I think you can visit the museum and experience it differently, depending on your mindset. It would be easy to become completely engulfed and have  a very emotional experience. Or, as I chose, for my first visit– to view the museum as a spectator. I viewed much of it through the lens of my camera; wanting to document everything I saw. This visit I wanted to be an observer, or a witness; I wasn’t there to grieve.

A close up section of the the Last Column.

A close up section of the Last Column.

I don’t want anyone to think I was trying to ignore or avoid an emotional experience– just being there was an emotional experience for me. September 11, 2001 has had such a profound effect on my life, I knew this experience would be another milestone in my personal journey.

I’m not sure how guided tours would work here. Much of the museum is laid out to stimulate a very solemn, personal experience. No photography is allowed in a number of areas. Dim lighting spotlights the exhibits, salvaged from tons of debris and personal effects donated by the families of victims. You are led on a cerebral and visceral journey depending on your emotional state.

The next time I go back, I could easily spend a full day taking in the full experience. Allowing myself to feeling the overpowering emotions bottled up inside. Allowing myself to grieve. The eyewitness accounts, media documentation, personal effects and thousands of stories of life and loss– are all here in remembrance.

 

Cripple-of-Inishmaan-Playbill-04-14The Cripple of Inishmaan Daniel Radcliffe is featured in this production written by Martin McDonagh. We saw Radcliffe’s outstanding performance in Equus a few seasons back. Even though he’s considered the star of this, he’s really not on stage that much. Other characters spend most of the the time talking about him in his absence.

There’s a chunk of the second act where the characters are watching a movie, conversing and commenting on the film. I completely missed the correlation here. It didn’t seem to go anywhere to further the thin plot.

There are some great moments and fine acting in this Irish black comedy. I’d compare a lot of the banter back and forth to that of a Mamet play.

Overall, though, it just wasn’t my favorite piece.

Casa-Valentina-Playbill-04-14Casa Valentina Written by Harvey Fierstein and directed by Joe Mantello, Casa Valentina is a fine theatrical work. Michael and I both agreed it could use some fine tuning towards the end but it’s a fascinating story.

Based on actual events, the action takes place in 1962 in the Catskills where a small group of married men gather to “escape being men”, dressing and living as women. It explores the conflicts of their mostly secret lives, their relationships and their own deep seated prejudices.

The ensemble cast is outstanding. I was most impressed and moved by Gabriel Ebert’s (Tony-winner last year for Matilda) sensitive portrayal of Jonathan/Miranda, completely at odds with his identity. Tom McGowan (Modern Family) as Bessie, is a strong, larger than life contrast– always the life of the party.

I kept forgetting that Reed Birney was a man. His Strong-woman portrayal of Charlotte is mesmerizing. John Cullum is completely adorable as Terry and has some of the best, unexpected quips.

Patrick Page and Mare Winningham lead the ensemble as husband and wife, ‘comfortable’ yet deeply conflicted with their unusual arrangement. It is their storyline, above all else, that we felt could have used a little more exploration.

Casa Valentina is a very funny, yet moving story. It’s one production that I would highly recommend.

Photo Essay: National September 11 Museum Opening Day

Visiting the National September 11 Museum on Opening Day (May 21, 2014) was my pilgrimage of sorts. It was a solemn, emotional and a very personal experience for me. I’ll writing more about the experience in my next post. Here are some of the images I captured on this historic day. (The taking of photographs is off limits in many areas of the museum.)

The National September 11 Museum stands watch near one of the Memorial Pools.

The National September 11 Museum stands watch near one of the Memorial Pools.

Band

Ceremonial activities outside the museum prior to its official opening.

Flag

Following the opening ceremony and unfurling of the National 9/11 Flag, it was solemnly escorted into the museum just before visitors were admitted.

Twin Tridents, part of the World Trade Center South Tower Facade greet visitors as they enter the museum's exhibition

Inside the museum, Twin Tridents, salvaged from the World Trade Center South Tower Facade, greet visitors as they enter.

 

Changing Panels and overlapping audio accounts of 9/11/01 surround you as you pass through the section of the exhibit.

Changing Panels and overlapping audio accounts of 9/11/01 surround you as you pass through the section of the exhibit.

Looking down on the slurry wall and Last Column in Foundation Hall.

Looking down on the slurry wall and Last Column in Foundation Hall.

A panel of gradually changing Missing Flyers are projected in the exhibit.

A panel of gradually changing Missing Flyers are projected in the exhibit.

A massive, moving tribute.

A massive, moving tribute.

Looking down the remnant of the historic Vesey Street, Survivors' Stairs.

Looking down the remnant of the historic Vesey Street, Survivors’ Stairs.

The Survivors' Stairs carried many to safety on 9/11/01.

The Survivors’ Stairs carried many to safety on 9/11/01.

In Memoriam honors all the victims of 9/11 and includes an inner gallery that honors the memory of each individual.

In Memoriam honors all the victims of 9/11 and includes an inner gallery that honors the memory of each individual.

WTC box column remnant.

WTC box column remnant.

South Tower grillage.

South Tower grillage.

antenna

A section of the North Tower radio and television antenna.

Ladder 3 damaged on 9/11. All the firefighters from this vehicle perished.

Ladder 3 damaged on 9/11. All the firefighters from this vehicle perished.

The steel beam cross from Ground Zero was a symbol of hope and rememberance.

The steel beam cross from Ground Zero was a symbol of hope and rememberance.

 

New York 2014: Broadway Here I Come!

IMG_0783

Times Square, December 2012.

If you know me really well, then you know that New York is my city. We try to get there at least once a year and this will be Michael’s and my longest stay yet. Ten days in the Big Apple… tickets to 17 shows and lots of other exciting activities planned. We started booking our trip a couple months ago, looking for the best deals on rooms and show tickets.

This year, in addition to visiting friends that live in NYC, two of our friends from home will also be in New York– part of the time– and joining us on some of our excursions, adding a different dimension to our trip.

National September 11 Memorial & Museum My most anticipated event this trip is attending the  National September 11 Museum on the official opening day, May 21st. 2014. I’ve been to the memorial twice before but anticipate that the museum will be a heightened emotional experience. I’ve already contributed a few images to the museum’s Artists Registry and hope to add more after this visit.

Broadway & Off Broadway Shows I know it sounds insane, 17 shows in 10 days…. but this is what we do. We always try to get a mix of plays and musicals, throwing in a few Off Broadway shows as well, if our schedule permits. This year’s line up includes: A Gentleman’s Guide To Love & Murder, Of Mice and Men, Rocky, The Bridges of Madison Country, Under My Skin, The Cradle Will Rock, All the Way, The Cripple of Inishmaan, Casa Valentina, Phantom of the Opera, Bullets Over Broadway, If/Then, Act One, Mothers and Sons, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Violet, and Heathers the Musical.

Something Old, Something New Each time we come to New York, our main goal is to see lots of shows and I think a lot of our friends think that’s all we do. But, we always try to experience as much of this amazing city as possible– time and weather permitting. Of course, we have a few restaurants and neighborhood destinations (sights) we try to visit every year, like Central Park— but we always try to add at least one new destination each trip and mix new restaurants in with a few old favorites. This year, we’ll be visiting The High Line for the second time, and will be venturing to the far north reach of Manhattan to visit The Cloisters and  its surrounding Fort Tryon Park.

We’re also hoping to make it to this year’s edition of the annual Stars in the Alley concert, several street festivals and a (new to us) historical sight or two.

I hope to be blogging daily about our NY adventures– that is, if we’re not too busy out doing.

Lower Manhattan.

Lower Manhattan. December 2012.