With my best friend Clay and his wife Amanda in town Tuesday from California, I decided to take them down to the brand-new 9/11 Memorial at Ground Zero.
Which of course meant we’d also get to see, up close and personal, the Occupy Wall Street protesters at Zuccotti Park.
To say the juxtaposition of the two spots was jarring is putting it mildly. First, let’s start with the Memorial.
After going an expectedly thorough security line to get in (actually, it was like 9 or 10 lines; I know the economy is hurting but the 9/11 Memorial is doing its part to employ folks; there must’ve been 100 security personnel around the grounds), we walked in and saw a simple, beautiful tribute to the thousands who lost their lives.
There are two enormous reflecting pools on the site of the Twin Towers, with cascading water towering from a height of what looked like 30 feet up. Etched onto the four sides of the two pools are the names of all who died on 9/11, either at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, or one of the other doomed flights (In a nice touch, the seven people who died during the first WTC attack, in 1993, are also included).
There’s also an electronic database that allows you to find any one specific name on the pools.
The crowds that were there Tuesday were very respectful; people took photos but seemed to do it sheepishly. For me one of the saddest moments was seeing two female names on the wall with the addendum “and her unborn child.”
Clay and I talked about the uniqueness of the names on the wall; unlike just about every other American war, the folks who died on 9/11 had absolutely no idea what they were in for, or what the possible consequences were for them on that fateful day.
It’s a beautiful memorial, one that will be made even better when the rest of the construction is finished, piecemeal, over the next five years.
Now, about the protesters … there weren’t that many of them in Zuccotti Park at around 3 p.m. Tuesday, but apparently, I learned later, that’s because there was an 0rganized protest march on Wall Street Tuesday.
The ones I saw were dancing, carrying signs (some of them badly misspelled, which offends me as a writer) and basically having a good time. The police officers looked on behind the barricades looking half-bemused, half-annoyed, it seemed to me.
I saw no violence or anything resembling an angry mob, just a group of people who are trying to be heard.
Slowly, something definitely seems to be happening here. Can’t wait to see if all of this protest turns into action in Washington.
As I’ve said, I’m not holding my breath. Funny how those guys like Eric Cantor seem to think these protesters are a “mob” but the Tea Party founders were an organized movement.
Could it be Cantor and the GOP just don’t like what these protesters are saying?
**I’m a sucker for Guinness Book of World Records stories. I just love crazy people who will do anything to set a record.
Check out this fabulous photo gallery. I love all of them, particularly the guys in the ice vats.