"Remember and Reflect"
By Capt. Fred Davis
Published: Saturday, September 18, 2010

If only we could look ahead Looking back is easy, but looking ahead can be very difficult and perplexing.

During the recent remembrances of 9-11, repeated over and over during the days surrounding the anniversary of the event nine years ago, tears flowed. By the time the sorrowful repetitions were over, there were few dry eyes to be found.

We all recalled the horrific images in different ways.

Most of us saw the terrifying scenes as planes crashed into the towers, the wreckage of United flight 93 as well as the carnage at the Pentagon. Memories flooded back and were bone chilling as we remembered the unbelievable sight of the Twin Towers collapsing. The images had been posted on the internet for weeks this year prior to the TV broadcast on 9-11.

Just two months after the towers came down, my wife and I crossed the Hudson into New York City. It was eerie to see smoke still floating over the crash site and realize after two months, ashes were still smoldering. The following year we visited Ground Zero with two of our grandchildren. I was amazed to see the small fire house that stood next to the towers still standing. I took the kids into the station and chatted with the captain. He and I both had tears in our eyes as we reminisced. My four-year-old grandson asked me later, “Grandpa, why were you crying?” All I could tell him was because I was very sad.

After visiting the fire station, we walked around Ground Zero and saw others with the same sadness reflecting on their faces. Heavy equipment was still digging, loading and hauling debris from the giant hole that remained. Fences around the perimeter had pictures and poems posted on them, remembrances of the people who had perished. Bouquets of flowers were strewn all around the site.

The next year, when we stopped in New York, we cruised on a tour boat around Manhattan. It reverently stopped its engines as we got to the location where the towers had been viewed from the river and we all looked at the empty space where they had stood. More tears flowed. As removal of debris at the site continued, a “Tribute in Light,” two parallel, vertical beams of light were put in place to illuminate the spot where the towers stood. Members of space flights reported how brightly those beams could be viewed from space.

Meetings were held and much discussion and planning took place which continued for years regarding what might replace the towers and what type of memorial should be placed. Early in the search it was decided to have a contest and ask architects to build small models to represent their design so they could all be put on display together.

In December, 2002 at the Winter Garden of the World Financial Center along the Hudson, seven designs were presented for the pubic to view. When we visited there, my wife and I strolled among the architects renderings wondering which would be chosen. The first phase, the World Trade Center Site Memorial, is scheduled to open September 11, 2011 with other phases still in construction to follow. I hope to be able to visit New York to see the completed project.

Each year since 9-11 we all remember and reflect as our tears flow. Hopefully, ever so slowly the healing has begun.

Because mine is an opinion column I feel I can mention my feelings regarding the controversy surrounding a possible mosque being built so close to where the twin towers stood.

I have given the subject much thought and cannot think of a resolution. Those that wonder why negative feelings are so strong must fail to recall the attack on the Cole, the horror of the towers crashing down, the shoe bomber and the young man who just recently tried to bring down an airliner over Detroit with explosives in his underwear. I’m sure there are many less documented events we are not even made aware of.

As I see it, opposing the location of the mosque does not reflect opposition to Muslims. It comes from a belief that those who hide behind their faith or allegiance while doing great harm to our country are determined to continue. Strong feelings are evoked when loved ones are put in harm’s way.

Didn’t our countrymen react the same way after Pearl Harbor?


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