Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Religion of 9/11

We have a lot of unrecognized religions in the U.S. First and foremost is the NFL. More people watch or attend football than go to church and it's easy to prove (been to church lately?; see any football?; your witness). The Vince Lombardi Trophy is even a golden chalice holding a football.

9/11 has become a religion. George W. Bush is its St. Paul, interpreting the events as one who wasn't there but knows what it all means. Rudy Giuliani is its pope, the reader of the law, excommunicating anyone who goes against his ex cathedra statements on fighting terrorism. Rudy by the way has yet to visit Iraq but I give him credit for an incredible eulogy for my wife's cousin, Fireman Tommy Kelly.

Tourists can make the stations of 9/11. Every day the tourists buses pull up to the WTC cross, currently located at the side of St. Peter's on Church Street down the block from the WTC. They pile out, take pictures of the cross and do Ground Zero, Trinity Church, buy a few souvenirs.

Some people found a purpose to their lives for the first time. Recently I read about the reunion of the clappers who, in the months of rescue and recovery, stood on the West Side Highway cheering the rescue workers on their way into the pit. This year they assembled in the same spot and were told by the police to move, they were in the way. Don't you know who we are? they said but the police would have none of it. How sharper than a serpent's tooth is ingratitude.

I suffered post-traumatic shock from being down there, looking for my daughter who fled her high school on Chambers St. I will always be grateful to her princpal for safely evacuating the school.

I heard two African American youths talking on 9/11. One said to the other, "I can't believe what happened to us today." I thought many years later of a president who had a country 100% united and how he squandered that capital.

One night, a few years after 9/11, I was in my daughter's school watching a student production of KISS ME KATE. As the lights went down I had a hard time breathing and had to leave the auditorium. Very weird and I think I'm over it now. Ironically I now work on lower Broadway, one block away from the WTC and I look at the big sky where it was every day.

As I walked down Fifth Avenue and then through the meat packing district on 9/11, hearing the news reports, I had convinced myself that some part of the buildings were still standing behind the clouds of smoke. That's insane I know, but it wasn't until I talked to my wife's sister-in-law on the phone that night that I actually knew that both buildings fell.

photos by B.P. Black

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