September 11 Photo Connections

Photo: CUNY, The 911 Digital Archive. Please click for more image info.

My daughter Bebe wanted her dad to come to her history class this morning and talk about his experience as a survivor on September 11, 2001. He did not want to do it…it still hurts.

Getting Dan to talk about that day is very difficult. Sometimes he will mention a few descriptions of images or thoughts or smells, but it is very rare. His nightmares have subsided, at least ones that are so real too him they wake me up.

Last year I wrote about my family’s personal experiences, and my own thoughts about that day…you can take a look at that post here…Sunday: September 11th…2011 « Sky Dancing

So for this, the eleventh anniversary of September 11, 2001, I thought it would be good to find some photos of what that day was like for my husband and so many other survivors who still remember that war zone as vividly as if it happened yesterday.

First, I want you to click on this link to a Flickr Slide Show.  These are images of Liberty St., Maiden Lane, Battery Park and the Financial District Downtown NYC on September 11, 2001 and the days that follow. (If that slide show does not load, click here for the photo stream.)

I also came across this blog, which has some fascinating pictures and thoughts…13 Days: The World Trade Center, Day One

Day One: September 11

9:02 am 11:02 am

Woke up to sirens and radio reports of an incident at the World Trade Center. I grabbed my camera and was out on the street by 9:00.

This blog discusses the first 13 days and the first 13 weeks and the first 13 months after the attack on World Trade.

Fall, 2001

The collapse of the World Trade Center is one of those rare tragedies that people will ask of us in the future, in who knows how many languages, “Do you remember where you were, on that day?”

These pages are about exactly that: the weeks that followed the terrorist attacks of September 11th.

These pages are also a thank you. For additional photographs, please see 13 Days and 13 Months.

Jonathan Corum

That is a wonderful place to spend some time, and get a perspective of what NYC residents had experienced during the days and months after those Twin Towers collapsed.

The photo up top, of the shoe covered in dust is from The September 11 Digital Archive « American Social History Project | Center for Media and Learning

On September 11, 2001, people around the world reacted to the attacks by using the Internet and digital media. This project is dedicated to the collection, preservation, and presentation of the history of that day and its aftermath. The Archive contains more than 150,000 digital items, including more than 40,000 emails and other electronic communications, more than 40,000 first-hand stories, and more than 15,000 digital images. In September 2003, the Library of Congress accepted the Archive into its collections, an event that both ensured the Archive’s long-term preservation and marked the library’s first major digital acquisition.. An unprecedented experiment in digital archival collecting, The September 11 Digital Archive became the Library of Congress‘s first major digital acquisition. The site was produced by ASHP/CML and the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University, with support from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

Visit The September 11 Digital Archive: http://911digitalarchive.org/

Unfortunately, those photos from the Library of Congress are only thumbnail size. You can only see full sized images on the LoC computers…which is really a shame because not everyone can get to Washington, DC.  That is a real disappointment for me at least, I really would have liked to see the images larger than those 190 pixels.

Then there are a few more photos I came across while gathering links for this post:

Liberty Plaza

Liberty Street or Maiden Lane

Downtown Hell

From Time Magazine: 9/11: The Photographs That Moved Them Most – LightBox

Robert Clark—INSTITUTE
Kent Kobersteen, former Director of Photography of National Geographic“The pictures are by Robert Clark, and were shot from the window of his studio in Brooklyn. Others shot the second plane hitting the tower, but I think there are elements in Clark’s photographs that make them special. To me the wider shots not only give context to the tragedy, but also portray the normalcy of the day in every respect except at the Towers. I generally prefer tighter shots, but in this case I think the overall context of Manhattan makes a stronger image. And, the fact that Clark shot the pictures from his studio indicates how the events of 9/11 literally hit home. I find these images very compelling—in fact, whenever I see them they force me to study them in great detail.”
David Surowiecki—Getty Images
Patrick Witty, International Picture Editor of TIME;
former freelance photographer
“After the towers fell, I walked back to my apartment on the Lower East Side, completely in a daze. I had shot black and white film that morning and there was a small lab in the kitchen of my neighbor’s apartment where I could process and scan. When I walked inside, covered in dust and a ripped t-shirt, my neighbors were there and we looked at each other in silence, in disbelief. Another photographer was there who I didn’t know, named David Surowiecki. At the time he was an editor at Getty Images, along with my old roommate Craig Allen. David and Craig were scanning film and transmitting the images from the apartment since Getty’s offices had been evacuated. David’s film from the morning was on a light table near the film dryer in the kitchen. I started looking at his film with a loupe and will never forget the feeling of despair when I saw this one particular image. It was a bizarre and terrifying, yet almost calm image, split down the middle with four tiny bodies falling to the ground. I saw bodies falling when I was near the burning towers, but I didn’t shoot it myself. I couldn’t.

That gallery has 23 images, some of them you may have seen before, but it is good to look at them again. My husband has told me that he saw groups people jumping together. A chain twenty-two people, holding each others hands and choosing to jump to their death. Horrifying.

Here is a link to the  National September 11 Memorial & Museum | World Trade Center Memorial. The website had a live stream of the Memorial service from Ground Zero…hopefully you can catch a recorded video at that link if you missed the live broadcast.

You can find some interactive information here at this link: National September 11 Memorial & Museum

Please join us in commemorating this year’s 9/11 anniversary. This page offers suggestions and tools including a downloadable 2012 Commemoration Planning Guide that provides resources for commemorating in communities, schools, through social media, and as an individual. Should you have any questions, please email us honor911@911memorial.org.

Thank you for helping to honor and remember.

Commemoration Resources
Promotional Materials for Your Commemoration
Education Tools
Fundraising Tools
Web Resources 
Share Your Plans

Commemoration Resources
2012 Commemoration Planning Guide 
Commemorate in your Online Community
Downloadable Suggestions for Talking to Children about 9/11
Downloadable List of Names on the 9/11 Memorial 
Online Guide for Locating and Searching Names on the 9/11 Memorial
September 11 National Day of Service and Remembrance

Promotional Materials for Your Commemoration
Newsletter/Email Template
Press Release Template
Sample Blog Post Template
Web Banners
Downloadable Poster
Facebook Cover Photo

Educational Tools
9/11 FAQ
Interactive Timelines
Introducing the 9/11 Memorial Lesson Plan
Symbols of Remembrance and Reflection Lesson Plan
Creating a Memorial Museum Lesson Plan

I don’t know how I feel about this, but they even have a Museum Shop. 

9/11 Memorial Bowtie

See what I mean? I know that net proceeds go towards the museum, but there is something twistedly morbid in wearing a 9/11 memorial bowtie. (Yeah, I just made up my own word there…) Let’s just end this post with some news links that are connected with 9/11.

And thank you for taking time out today to remember and reflect on this…

September 11.


Twisting Personal Tragedy to Advance Unrelated and Evil Public Ends

Yesterday, Minkoff Minx wrote a beautiful and eloquent post that described her personal experience of the tragic events of September 11, 2001. I was so grateful to read what she wrote, because she simply described her own experience and emotions about what happened. She didn’t try to speak for her husband or any of the the other survivors–just herself. She also shared some wonderful resources for getting in touch with how we felt on that day ten years ago, when our country was attacked by foreign terrorists.

On September 11, 2001, nearly 3,000 people lost their lives to terrorist attacks as they were either beginning their days at work at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon or traveling on airplanes scheduled to fly from Boston to Los Angeles, Washington D.C. to Los Angeles, and Newark to San Francisco. For the families and friends of those who died, life would never again be the same. Thousands of others, like Minx’s husband, survived, but their lives and those of their families were also forever altered.

Thousands more were either directly impacted by the trauma of witnessing the attacks close up from their homes in New York or Washington, DC. Thousands of first responders were also directly affected by the attacks and their aftermath, including people who traveled to NYC, DC, and PA to help search for survivors or to support first responders.

Those of us who helplessly watched the events as they played out on television were affected too, although few of us probably suffered from post-traumatic stress as a result. But we empathized with those who were directly impacted, and we felt the terrible shock of having our country attacked. I can remember how shocked I was that day. I was on vacation at a Rhode Island beach with my family. It was a gorgeous day and I was out sightseeing with my parents and my sister when we heard the news. My sister had spoken to someone in a museum store and heard that a plane had flown into the World Trade Center. We headed back to the beach house as we listened to reports on the radio. My brother and his wife were watching TV at the beach house when we got back.

For the next couple of days we quietly read newspapers or watched TV. My sister’s husband drove out from Indiana to get her because the planes weren’t flying and she was very frightened. I had to go back to Boston to start teaching classes a couple of days later, and I recall that I felt nervous and jumpy while driving alone. Like many others, I was fearful of more attacks. At the time, everything was so confusing, I didn’t know what to expect. I also felt shame that two of the planes used in the attacks flew out of Logan Airport in Boston.

Most of us probably have clear memories of where we were and what we were doing that day and following days. We’re told told Americans pulled together after September 11, 2001, although I don’t really recall feeling that myself. But I have no doubt that millions of people empathized with those who were directly affected. As I mentioned above, many people took action by traveling to the places that were attacked to help in any way they could. Nothing that has happened since can change the basic caring and good will of the American people.

Yet for the past week, I’ve felt anger every time I saw the upcoming anniversary of September 11 being hyped on TV–the endless replaying of the videos of the planes hitting the towers; the preachy fake patriotism of the talking heads; the sudden reappearance of disgraced politicians George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and Donald Rumsfeld; the constant talk of “security” and the repetition of the words “the homeland,” which is so reminiscent of the Nazi term “the fatherland.” How could I not be angry after all that our government has done in the past ten years to supposedly avenge the lives lost on 9/11?

First there was the attack on Afghanistan, supposedly to catch Osama bin Laden. But when there was a chance to capture or kill bin Laden, Bush decided not to. Next came the barrage of lies from the Bush administration and from media sources like The New York Times and Washington Post, in order to get us into a second war in Iraq. Those wars have killed far more than 3,000 young American soldiers and perhaps hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and Afghanis–and for what? No effort was made to confront Saudi Arabia–where most of the perpetrators and the financial support for the attacks came from. Over the past ten years we have seen the progressive erosion of our Constitutional rights in the name of “security” and “safety.” We have learned that our government captured and imprisoned people–often completely innocent people–without evidence or charges at Guantanamo, at Abu Ghraib, at Bagram, and untold other prisons around the world. We know that many of these people were tortured and killed. Americans voted for Barack Obama in hopes that he would end the pointless wars and stop the rendition and torture. Instead, he has continued the wars and continued to rendition people to foreign prisons where they will be tortured. He has ordered drone attacks in Pakistan and Yemen. He has continued the erosion of our Constitution rights and defended the Bush administration at every opportunity. These are the reasons I felt angry at the jingoistic celebrations of the tenth anniversary of September 11, 2001.

And what has become of the survivors of the 9/11 attacks? Every effort was made to keep any compensation they received to a minimum. And what of the first responders who were exposed to the toxic environment at Ground Zero in NYC? They have been denied the help they need along with the recognition of what they suffered. The Bush administration resisted any investigation of why the attacks were not prevented, and when they finally allowed a 9/11 commission–largely because of the efforts of four 9/11 widows (The Jersey Girls), they kept the Commission from from going “too far” in holding anyone in the administration accountable.

It was healing for me to read Minkoff Minx’s post, because she spoke of her personal pain and losses and how she was living with the aftereffects. I was able to recall my pure memories of that day, and how I worried about the reactions of my students, how I tried to get discussions going in my classes so we could share our reactions. For a short time as I read yesterday morning’s post, I was able to recall the pure feeling of loss from that day ten years ago before the tragedy was twisted to start wars that would decimate our economy and pass laws that would erode our individual rights and freedoms.

Yesterday morning, Paul Krugman wrote a brief but heartfelt blog post expressing some of the feelings I’ve tried to express with my post today. I’m going to take the liberty of reproducing Krugman’s statement here:

September 11, 2011, 8:41 am
The Years of Shame
Is it just me, or are the 9/11 commemorations oddly subdued?

Actually, I don’t think it’s me, and it’s not really that odd.

What happened after 9/11 — and I think even people on the right know this, whether they admit it or not — was deeply shameful. The atrocity should have been a unifying event, but instead it became a wedge issue. Fake heroes like Bernie Kerik, Rudy Giuliani, and, yes, George W. Bush raced to cash in on the horror. And then the attack was used to justify an unrelated war the neocons wanted to fight, for all the wrong reasons.

A lot of other people behaved badly. How many of our professional pundits — people who should have understood very well what was happening — took the easy way out, turning a blind eye to the corruption and lending their support to the hijacking of the atrocity?

The memory of 9/11 has been irrevocably poisoned; it has become an occasion for shame. And in its heart, the nation knows it.

For this brief blog post expressing his personal sadness over the way government, politicians, and media have twisted private tragedy to accomplish their own unrelated and corrupt ends, Paul Krugman has been attacked by right wingers and Islamophobics all over the internet. He has been called every name in the book for simply speaking his own truth. He has also gotten some support from liberal blogs, and other bloggers have discussed their own misgivings about the changes in our country after 9/11. I want to share a few of those reactions.

Nicole Belle at Crooks & Liars: While Thinking People Grapple With 9/11 Legacy, RWNJs Shoot The Messenger

Cliff Schecter at Al Jazeera English: 9/11 and Its Great Transformations

Kristin Breitweiser: No Place To Go But Up: Howard Schultz’ Upward Spiral 2011

Blue Texan at FDL: Krugman is Right: We Should Be Ashamed of What Happened After 9/11

Dave Weigel at Slate: Get Krugman!

I guess what I’m trying to say in this post is that ten years after September 11 2001, I still have faith in the basic goodness and caring of the American people, but I am even more suspicious of and cynical about the U.S. Government and the U.S. Media than ever before. I do think we need to be eternally vigilant, not about physical danger from foreign terrorists but from the constant psychological manipulations emanating from those who claim to be protecting and informing us.


Sunday: September 11th…2011

When this photo was taken, there was still over an hour to go before American...

Good morning, it’s been ten years…no need to say anything else. The words September Eleventh just reach my ears like a stone. It is strange, but many of the WTC survivors and the victim’s families refer to that day in using the words. September 11th. The numbers: 9/11 just seem to simple a way to describe such a sorrowful day…a jarring cold way to designate an important date.

That September morning was beautiful…the sky was clear and blue, and there was that warm Indian Summer feeling in the early morning air.  We lived in Newtown, CT…on Sugar Street, in a big white house that was built in 1900. The house used to be a nursery, called Key Rock Gardens, and the grounds were full of ornamental trees and perennial gardens. I was outside that morning, my husband had been gone for three hours…catching that 5:40am Metro North train out of Bethal, that took him down to Stamford. From there the train headed toward New York City, and after the hour and a half train ride, he would arrive at Grand Central Station. On to the subway, the 4/5, going downtown…to the Trinity Church/Wall Street station. Then he would walk up a couple blocks to Liberty Street, next to the World Trade Center Complex.

Me and the kids in the park behind the Twin Towers one Tuesday in July or August of 2000, Dan, my husband is taking the picture.

It was a Tuesday, and the Amish Market would have been in full swing along the large concrete walkways at the World Trade Plaza. Before we moved to Connecticut, when we lived downtown in Hanover Square, I would take our kids to World Trade Plaza and we’d meet their father there for lunch. Tuesdays were special, we would grab something from one of the vendors at the market and take our lunch to a small area, just behind the towers…We would sit on park benches, surrounded by ponds with water gardens and raised beds that held beautiful flowers.

Oh yes, that September morning was beautiful…I was watering the plants that were outside along the front of our house…when I heard the sound of a loud jet engine. I looked up and saw a huge jet flying real low over our house. I was familiar with that sound, growing up in Tampa our house was right in the path of the jets that would land at the International Airport, so the jets would fly directly over our house.  You could hear the engines and see the big wheels, in the down position…

It was strange so see this plane flying so low over our house on Sugar St., we did not have any airports nearby where a jet that big could land…and what made it even more odd, was that the wheels were still up in there compartments….and the compartment doors were closed shut. I shut the hose off and went into the house, I was concerned, I thought the plane was having problems and that was why it was flying so low. The kids were playing in the sunroom, Disney’s Fantasia was playing on the VCR when my husband called me from his office. He had forgotten his cell phone at home that day…but that was not why he had called. He told me to turn the TV on, a plane had flown into the North Tower, or Tower 1 of the World Trade Center…his corner office was just across the street and overlooked the towers.

I was on the phone with him as I watched CNN’s Paula Zahn, filming her first show from the rooftop when the second plane hit the tower…it was strange, I saw the big fire-ball, but I had heard the speeding jet over the phone…loud, like a fighter jet flying low, buzzing a beach or a mountain…as it flew into the South Tower, also called Tower 2.

He told me the people who worked for him were going to try to leave the office, but several of his brokers went to see if they could help…he  wanted to make sure they came back to the office and that they were safe, before he left the building. That was the last time I spoke with him. My kids and I watched those buildings fall. Then we waited. I knew his office was so close to the falling Towers, there was a strong possibility that he was in extreme danger. We thought the worst.

He walked in the door later that night after 7:30, covered in ash and dust, after running from the debris cloud as the second tower fell.  His building was damaged when the towers fell, and three people from his office were killed.

Story Image

FILE – In this Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001 file picture, a person falls headfirst from the north tower of New York’s World Trade Center. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

He said the worst thing was watching groups of 20 to 25 people holding hands jumping from the burning building. He saw people fall and burst into pieces as they hit the cement or landed on the large light poles that were in the plaza. He found a heavyset woman lying in the street, when he grabbed her wrist, she had no pulse, he said she must have had a heart attack as she ran.

These are just a few of the things he has told my father.  It’s been ten years, and he still will not talk to me about the things he saw, but I am there when he has the nightmares. They don’t come as often now, but they still seem to break through his sleep during this time of year.

One thing is strange since that day ten years ago… you would be amazed at just how many times he takes a look at the clock, and the time is 9:11.  He says it is God’s way of reminding him of that September day.

We cannot forget what we saw that day.  We cannot “get over” what happened on that day ten years ago…and I will tell you, it is very upsetting to see articles and op/ed pieces in the press that tell us to leave 9/11 behind.

No.

We’ll never get over it.

There were two targets, Washington and New York. Washington saw a great military institution attacked, and quickly rebuilt. In Washington people ran barefoot from the White House and the Capitol.

But New York saw a world end. New York saw the buildings come down.

That was the thing. It’s not that the towers were hit—we could have taken that. It’s not the fire, we could have taken that too. They bombed the World Trade Center in 1993 and took out five floors, and the next day we were back in business.

It’s that the buildings came down, in front of our eyes. They were there and proud and strong, they were massive, two pillars at the end of the island. And then they groaned to the ground and there was a cloud and when people could finally see they looked back and the buildings weren’t there breaking through the clouds anymore. The buildings were a cloud. The buildings were gone and that was too much to bear because they couldn’t be gone, they couldn’t have fallen. Because no one could knock down those buildings.

Those buildings, jetting out of the skyline. You could see them from almost any angle in Midtown and Lower Manhattan.  They watched over us. They protected us.

The Twin Towers, I took this picture in July or August of 2000.

When you ask New Yorkers now what they remember, they start with something big—the first news report, the phone call in which someone said, “Turn on the TV.” But then they go to the kind of small thing that when you first saw it you had no idea it would stay in your mind forever. The look on the face of a young Asian woman on Sixth Avenue in the 20s, as she looked upward. The votive candles on the street and the spontaneous shrines that popped up, the pictures of saints. The Xeroxed signs that covered every street pole downtown. A man or a woman in a family picture from a wedding or a birthday or bar mitzvah. “Have you seen Carla? Last seen Tuesday morning in Windows on the World.”

I remember seeing these posters and notes that were put up all over Manhattan…it was so hard to walk by these makeshift signs…those lost faces of families looking for their lost loved ones. Holding on to the last bit of hope, that they made it out alive and were somewhere in the city and just could not make it home.

The Pompeii-like ash that left a film on everything in town, all the way to the Bronx. The smell of burning plastic that lingered for weeks. A man who worked at Ground Zero told me: “It’s the computers.” They didn’t melt or decompose, and they wouldn’t stop burning.

But the human remains did decompose. My husband would smell death every day for weeks as he went back to work just a day after the towers fell.  People would line the streets as the first responders would head into the pit.  They held up signs, gave out bottles of water, and waited…

The old woman with her grandchild in a stroller. On the stroller she had written a sign in magic marker: “America You Are Not Alone, Mexico Is With You.” She was all by herself in the darkness, on the side of the West Side Highway, as we stood to cheer the workers who were barreling downtown in trucks to begin the dig-out, and to see if they could find someone still alive.

[…]

Many heartbreaking things happened after 9/11 and maybe the worst is that there’s no heroic statue to them, no big marking of what they were and what they gave, at the new World Trade Center memorial.

But New York will never get over what they did. They live in a lot of hearts.

They tell us to get over it, they say to move on, and they mean it well: We can’t bring an air of tragedy into the future. But I will never get over it. To get over it is to get over the guy who stayed behind on a high floor with his friend who was in a wheelchair. To get over it is to get over the woman by herself with the sign in the darkness: “America You Are Not Alone.” To get over it is to get over the guys who ran into the fire and not away from the fire.

You’ve got to be loyal to pain sometimes to be loyal to the glory that came out of it.

So many of those people who died in the towers have never been found, they just incinerated into dust that was blown over the city.  Even in Newtown, Connecticut, for days after the buildings fell, ash and dust was falling from the sky. It was like being near a large wildfire, when you see those papery ash particles float down like bits of snow.

As of January 2010, only 1,626 of the 2,752 victims had been identified.

No.

We cannot forget

Eric O’Connell/courtesy of HBO

“Beyond 9/11: Portraits of Resilience,” a collaboration by Time magazine and HBO, will be shown on CNN on Friday and Saturday; HBO will show it on Sunday at 8:46 a.m., the time the first plane hit the World Trade Center.

Nobody who remembers Sept. 11 wants to relive it.

And that makes the profusion of 10th-anniversary specials blanketing television throughout the weekend daunting to contemplate, let alone watch. Seeing those images and hearing all those stories is a painful exercise at best, cathartic only in the sense that repression is worse.

What happened that day was unimaginable, and, 10 years on, so is not going over it, again and again.

Eric O’Connell/HBO

A scene from “Beyond 9/11: Portraits of Resilience.”

There are many archives and photo projects that I would like to mention.

The September 11 Photo Project

The September 11 Photo Project began as a community response to the tragic events of last fall. The Project grew out of a desire to preserve the culture of the outdoor, makeshift shrines that sprang up in public squares and in front of firehouses throughout the city. Anyone wishing to participate was invited to give up to three photographs with accompanying text, which were hung in a donated gallery space.
The Project’s philosophy is simple: To display without exception every set of photos and written statements that are submitted, and to welcome all those who wish to view them. The Project is unique in its approach—each participant, not the organizers, selects the pieces that are displayed, and all are included in the firm belief that no entry is better than any other.

The September 11 Photo Project put the images it received into a book, you can click on that link and see sample pages. It is now a permanent exhibit of the Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Collection of the New York Public Library.

September 11, 2001, Documentary Project – (American Memory from the Library of Congress)

The September 11, 2001, Documentary Project captures the heartfelt reactions, eyewitness accounts, and diverse opinions of Americans and others in the months that followed the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and United Airlines Flight 93. Patriotism and unity mixed with sadness, anger, and insecurity are common themes expressed in this online presentation of almost 200 audio and video interviews, 45 graphic items, and 21 written narratives.

The day after the attacks, the American Folklife Center called upon the nation’s folklorists and ethnographers to collect, record, and document America’s reaction. A sampling of the material collected through this effort was used to create the September 11, 2001, Documentary Project. This collection captures the voices of a diverse ethnic, socioeconomic, and political cross-section of America during trying times and serves as a historical and cultural resource for future generations.

National September 11 Memorial & Museum | World Trade Center Memorial

Below are some links to items and artifacts that are part of the exhibit in the museum, stories, pictures and oral histories…Museum | National September 11  Museum

Like a chair that was donated to the museum, and the story that goes with it:

Lower Manhattan Resident Kathleen Gupta
 
Kathleen and Udayan Gupta’s Battery Park City home overlooking the World Trade Center was severely damaged on 9/11. Listen to Kathleen Gupta speak about residential life in lower Manhattan before and after September 11 and why the Guptas decided to donate a chair from their apartment to the Museum’s collection.  Listen >>


I want to end with this, Pieces of demolished World Trade Center aboard Mars Rovers | Human World | EarthSky

The planet Mars is now home to a piece of the demolished World Trade Center in New York City.

A decade ago, engineers working with NASA turned a scrap of aluminum recovered from the site of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks into cable shields. The shields now protect rock abrasion tools on two Mars Rovers, named Spirit and Opportunity. These quiet tributes to the victims of 9/11 left Earth in 2003 and 2004.

The piece of metal with the American flag on it in this image of a NASA rover on Mars is made of aluminum recovered from the site of the World Trade Center towers in the weeks after their destruction. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell University

The story of how aluminum from the demolished towers of the World Trade Center (WTC) wound up being incorporated into the Mars Rovers is an interesting one. The tale involves robotics engineer and Rover team member Stephen Gorevan. He was riding his bike in lower Manhattan when a plane hit the WTC on September 11, 2001. He told NASA:

Mostly, what comes back to me even today is the sound of the engines before the first plane struck the tower. Just before crashing into the tower, I could hear the engines being revved up as if those behind the controls wanted to ensure the maximum destruction. I stopped and stared for a few minutes and realized I felt totally helpless, and I left the scene and went to my office nearby, where my colleagues told me a second plane had struck. We watched the rest of the sad events of that day from the roof of our facility.

When the engineers went back to work,

…they were frustrated by not being able to assist with 9/11 volunteer efforts. So, Steve Kondos, who was, at the time, a Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) engineer working with the Honeybee team, came up with the idea of embedding some kind of “interplanetary memorial” on the Rovers:

To carry out the idea, an early hurdle was acquiring an appropriate piece of material from the World Trade Center site. Through Gorevan’s contacts, a parcel was delivered to Honeybee Robotics from the mayor’s office on December 1, 2001, with a twisted plate of aluminum inside and a note: “Here is debris from Tower 1 and Tower 2.”

Tom Myrick, an engineer at Honeybee, saw the possibility of machining the aluminum into cable shields for the rock abrasion tools. He hand-delivered the material to the machine shop in Texas that was working on other components of the tools. When the shields were back in New York, he affixed an image of the American flag on each.

The Rovers have been on the surface of Mars since early in the last decade.

Spirit ended communications in March 2010. Opportunity is still going strong, and its rock abrasion tool is being used to explore a large crater that the rover reached in August of 2011. Gorevan noted:

It’s gratifying knowing that a piece of the World Trade Center is up there on Mars. That shield on Mars, to me, contrasts the destructive nature of the attackers with the ingenuity and hopeful attitude of Americans.

Sometime soon, both the Rovers will fall silent. But their aluminum tribute to 9/11′s victims will survive on the cold surface of the desert world Mars for millions of years to come.

Have a safe and reflective day, I will be spending it quietly with my husband and our children…remembering what happened that day and remembering the people who lost their lives in Washington DC, Lower Manhattan and a field in Pennsylvania, and thinking about those love ones they left behind…families that are still waiting for some part of them to come home.

“Leaving New York”

It’s quiet now
And what it brings
Is everything

Comes calling back
A brilliant night
I’m still awake

I looked ahead
I’m sure I saw you there

You don’t need me
To tell you now
That nothing can compare

You might have laughed if I told you
You might have hidden A frown
You might have succeeded in changing me
I might have been turned around

It’s easier to leave than to be left behind
Leaving was never my proud
Leaving New York, never easy
I saw the light fading out

Now life is sweet
And what it brings
I tried to take
But loneliness
It wears me out
It lies in wait

And I’ve lost
Still in my eyes
The shadow of necklace
Across your thigh
I might’ve lived my life in a dream, but I swear
This is real
Memory fuses and shatters like glass
Mercurial future, forget the past
It’s you, it’s what I feel.

You might have laughed if I told you (it’s pulling me apart)
You might have hidden a frown (change)
You might have succeeded in changing me (it’s pulling me apart)
I might have been turned around (change)

It’s easier to leave than to be left behind (it’s pulling me apart)
Leaving was never my proud (change)
Leaving New York, never easy (it’s pulling me apart)
I saw the light fading out
You find it in your heart, it’s pulling me apart
You find it in your heart, change…

I told you, forever
I love you, forever
I told you, I love you
I love you, forever
I told you, forever
You never, you never
You told me forever

You might have laughed if I told you
You might have hidden the frown
You might have succeeded in changing me
I might have been turned around

It’s easier to leave than to be left behind (it’s pulling me apart)
Leaving was never my proud (change)
Leaving New York never easy (it’s pulling me apart)
I saw the life fading out (change)
Leaving New York, never easy (it’s pulling me apart)
I saw the light fading out (change)
Leaving New York never easy (it’s pulling me apart)
I saw the life fading out (change)


Wednesday Reads: Going Postal, Age of Austerity and “Victim 0001”

Happy Wednesday Morning…

Okay, I am going to start this morning’s post with some humor, and end it with something solemn…I am in a melancholy mood. No surprise, right? I swear, the Obama job policy speculations are so depressing. (Yes, I am in complete agreement with the other Sky Dancers, I am not expecting anything Obama pitches will actually help the situation.)

Well, let’s get this party started…

Mike Luckovich has a new cartoon, this time he jokes about Mother Nature.  Personally, I think Luckovich is one of the best political cartoonists around.  You be the judge on this one:

9/7 Mike Luckovich cartoon: Mother Nature | Mike Luckovich

mike09072011

Dakinikat wrote about this news out of the swamp, Boehner, Cantor Want to Meet With Obama Before Speech – Billy House – NationalJournal.com

She went with the Peanuts analogy of Lucy and the Football…I am going to take it a bit further…as you will see after this quote:

The two top House GOP leaders are asking President Obama to call a “bipartisan, bicameral” meeting with House and Senate leaders before his speech to Congress on Thursday to discuss cooperation on jobs legislation and other items to spur the economy.

In a letter dated Tuesday, Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., note their request comes amid reports that Obama intends to unveil his own “jobs” agenda.

They suggest there may be several potential areas for “common ground,” even as they complain that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has refused to allow many of the jobs-related measures passed by the House to come up for a Senate vote.
The two also reiterate in their letter that House Republicans have themselves already announced a legislative calendar for the fall with a heavy focus on the repeal of regulations, and that they will continue to push to reduce those that are “hampering job growth in our country.”
They write that they “appreciate” Obama’s announcement on Friday asking the EPA to withdraw its new draft ozone standards. But they say it is “critical” that such actions not stop there and hope that Obama, prior to his scheduled address to a joint session of the Senate and House on Thursday night, will “disclose the cost estimates” for what they say are 212 other regulatory actions still in the works by his administration.

I don’t know why, but reading about this possible meeting of the three stooges, before the Obama jobs speech makes me think of that scene in Naked Gun 2 and a half….The Blue Note. Where you see all those disaster pictures in frames along the wall, as the camera scans the depressed clientele.

I think that photograph of Dukakis needs to be updated with a photo of Obama… No word yet on if Obama will concede to a meeting with the Tangerine and his little buddy…and yes, I am conjuring up images of the Skipper and Gilligan.

To continue the train wreck, I mean this morning’s post,  I give you this article from Scarecrow over at FDL:  Pelosi’s Picks for Super Committee Embrace Tea-GOP Economics and Budget Gibberish | MyFDL

If you’re hoping that Nancy Pelosi’s picks for the Congressional Super Committee have either the wisdom or courage to stand against the job-killing spending cuts Obama and Congress imposed on the nation, you’ll be disappointed.

Two of Nancy Pelosi’s picks, Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA), revealed that their understanding of depression economics is no better than Herbert Hoover’s or Michele Bachmann’s. From Brian Buetler at TPM:

Democrats on the new joint deficit Super Committee will seek more than the $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction they’ve been tasked with finding, in order to help offset some of those costs [of funding jobs programs].

“All of us would like to set as a target for ourselves even more than $1.5 trillion,” Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), who’s also the top House Democrat on the Budget Committee, told reporters at a Tuesday Capitol press conference. . . .

Committee member Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA) agrees with Van Hollen, and says he’d be willing to put key progressive programs on the table if it gives Congress more running room to shore up the economy now.

“It’s incumbent upon the Congress and the government not to make things worse,” Becerra said. “I’m looking at the last six months and I’m not seeing how job growth has come from some of this cutting of services, but again I’ll be open to it so long as…there’s proof that the proposal will lead to job growth and deficit reduction.”

Where do they come up with these absurd notions?The answer is: from the White House, where the President told them and the American people that the debt deal would “create room” for doing some useful things. That’s beyond wrong, beyond stupid.

Dakinikat has written so many posts about how ridiculous these kinds of cuts are…so this next bit should not be a surprise to you… That these “Democrats” are buying into the Cantor Crap, you know, the Offsets bullshit.

So they have to cut back on other government spending or let the jobless remain jobless. Didn’t need that for wars, or for multiple tax cuts or this fiscal year’s budget; it’s a new thing. Even the simple notion that it makes sense to borrow at zero real interest rates now, spend it on whatever the country needs now, and pay it back/raise taxes later, seems to be beyond their understanding.

Even if Pelosi’s picks get their way, we’re likely to get the same results Congress and FDR achieved in 1937, when the federal government contracted and imposed a balanced budget on an economy still struggling to get out of the depression: they’ll rekindle a recession and put lots more people out of work.

Pelosi has greased the wheels for the jump onto the austerity bandwagon. Just like Obama has buttered us up for his next Republican-like jobs policy, to go with all the other Republican policies that this Democrat…cough…president has kept alive.  But, back to the Scarecrow post…

Ms. Pelosi told us weeks ago that we “live in the age of austerity,” so why not choose mindless austerians to punish the nation? But there’s nothing requiring elected officials to accept that ignorant belief, because it’s nuts. Daily headlines from Europe are virtually screaming how disastrous austerity is when nations are on the verge of financial collapse.

[…]

We don’t need, and the country cannot survive, two Tea Parties or two wings of the Corporate Party. The age we live in demands just the opposite of the austerity delusions the Democratic leaders and the President have ignorantly, recklessly embraced. And come 2012, voters will have every reason to show them all what the phrase “you’re fired” means.

Next, I have a couple of World news links for you.

NATO suspends Afghan prison transfers – Central & South Asia – Al Jazeera English

The US-led coalition in Afghanistan has suspended its transfer of detainees to Afghan prisons following allegations by the UN that prisoners are being tortured.

The allegations were leaked on Tuesday ahead of a UN report that claims prisoners have been beaten with rubber hoses, threatened with sexual assault and given electric shocks.

A NATO official said that transfers have been suspended pending an investigation by the International Security and Assistance Force (ISAF).

The suspension affects detention centres run by the Afghan police and intelligence service in Herat, Khost, Lagman, Kapisa and Takhar.

Dan McNorton, a spokesman for the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) told Al Jazeera that it shared its findings with the Afghan government, including the national directorate of security.

“We understand they are taking the findings very seriously and are proposing a series of remedial actions,”  McNorton said.

“Our findings indicate that the mistreatment of detainees is not an institutional or government policy of the Government of Afghanistan.”

The article goes on to say that this can further complicate the inevitable withdrawal of foreign troops in Afghanistan.

“The NATO nations are members of the convention against torture,” he said. “Article III requires that if they  have reason to believe that a person if turned over to another government would be tortured, they’re not permitted to turn them over. So the decision that was taken today is exactly what is required of them.”

I guess we will hear more about this after the jobs speech is over and done with.

In Australia, Another bomb stand-off for Sydney as child is taken hostage – Australasia, World – The Independent

Barely a month after a teenager was terrorised by an intruder with a fake collar bomb, Sydney was the scene of another bomb drama yesterday, this time involving a man who locked himself in a barristers’ chambers with his daughter and a backpack he claimed contained explosives.

After an 11-hour stand-off, police stormed the building last night and arrested the man. His 12-year-daughter was said to be distressed but unharmed. With explosives experts still examining the backpack, it was not clear if the bomb threat was genuine.

[…]

Last month, an intruder broke into the home of a wealthy Sydney family and strapped what turned out to be a fake collar bomb to the neck of 18-year-old Madeleine Pulver. An Australian banker, Paul Peters, was arrested in Kentucky a fortnight later, and faces extradition.

Geez, what the hell is going on in this world?

I swear, people are acting crazy. Violence and desperation seems to be truly taking hold. Yesterday a man killed 3 people and wounded six in Nevada.

Which reminds me, talk about going “postal.”  White House to Propose Plan to Help Postal Service – NYTimes.com

The Obama administration said on Tuesday that it would seek to save the deficit-plagued Postal Service from an embarrassing default by proposing to give it an extra three months to make a $5.5 billion payment due on Sept. 30 to finance retirees’ future health coverage.

I guess the offset cut will have to come from somewhere, unless it is just another carrot Obama is dangling before us….

Mr. Berry said the Obama administration would push for legislation to allow a three-month delay in the $5.5 billion payment. But he stopped short of endorsing a far-reaching proposal, backed by the postal service, to allow the agency to claw back more than $50 billion that two independent actuaries have said the post office has overpaid into a major federal pension plan. Postal Service officials say such a move would go far to alleviate the agency’s financial problems.

Mr. Berry said the administration was studying the proposal, but not endorsing or opposing it at this point.

He said the administration would release a more comprehensive proposal in coming weeks “to ensure a sustainable future for the postal service,” one that would be part of the broader $1.5 trillion deficit reduction package that the President Obama has promised to send to Congress.

Oh, wait…Obama is pushing the Postal Problem on the Super Committee…so I guess the postal workers are up shit creek, and we all will have to find some other way to send those Mother’s Day and Christmas cards.

I want to end with this small article from Democracy Now. It is about Father Mychal Judge, the NYFD’s Cathoic chaplain, who was killed on September 11th, 2001.  Amy Goodman: 9/11 Victim 0001: Father Mychal’s Message – Truthdig

The body bag marked “Victim 0001” on Sept. 11, 2001, contained the corpse of Father Mychal Judge, a Catholic chaplain with the Fire Department of New York. When he heard about the disaster at the World Trade Center, he donned his Catholic collar and firefighter garb and raced downtown. He saw people jump to their deaths to avoid the inferno more than 1,000 feet above. At 9:59 a.m., the South Tower collapsed, and the force and debris from that mass of steel, concrete, glass and humanity as it hit the ground is likely what killed Father Mychal. His was the first recorded death from the attacks that morning. His life’s work should be central to the 10th anniversary commemorations of the Sept. 11 attacks: peace, tolerance and reconciliation.

Goodman goes on to discuss Father Mychal’s journal that was given by his twin sister to journalist Michael Daly. More particularly, the admission in those diaries.

Father Mychal was well known to the poor and afflicted of New York City and New Jersey. He helped the homeless, and people with HIV/AIDS. As a member of the Franciscan order, he would often wear the traditional brown robe and sandals. But there was a half-known secret about him: He was gay. In his private diaries, the revered Catholic priest wrote, “I thought of my gay self and how the people I meet never get to know me fully.”

[…]

Brendan Fay is a longtime Irish-American gay activist who was a friend of Judge’s….[says] “He was one of the priests at Dignity New York, an organization for gay and lesbian Catholics. … He ministered to [us] during the AIDS crisis, when there were few priests available to our community.”

I remember a few seconds of the documentary film 9/11, by Jules and Gedeon Naudet. Father Mychal is seen praying while you can hear the sound of jumpers as they fall on the plaza.

Many remember the iconic photo of Father Mychal being carried from the rubble of the WTC, taken by photographer, Shannon Stapleton. But when I think of Father Judge, the image from the film 9/11, his look of worry and his mouth moving in prayer is what comes to mind.  I think it is fitting that Amy Goodwin ends her post with this quote from Brendan Fay.

“On 9/11, the one thing we can take from Mychal Judge is, in the midst of this hell and war and evil and violence, here is this man who directs us to another possible path as human beings: We can choose the path of compassion and nonviolence and reconciliation. Mychal Judge had a heart as big as New York. There was room for everybody. And I think that’s the lesson.”

That is all I have for you today, what are you reading and watching today? Anything good? Please be sure to share some links below…