Tag Archives: 9/11 Memorial Museum

A visit to the 9/11 Memorial Museum is a powerful experience. John Oliver hilariously starts own church. And my annual tribute to the late great Jim Murray

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In New York City, the reminders of 9/11 are never too far from your mind. The new Freedom Tower is hard to miss, and going into Lower Manhattan for any reason always makes me think of what happened there now almost 14 years ago.

Sunday, with my best friend in town from Georgia, we decided to visit the brand-new 9/11 Memorial Museum. I knew it would be painful, but I also knew it was another necessary step to remember that day.

The place is, in a word, powerful. And dazzling. And beautifully specific. And emotional (OK, it took me more than one word to describe it.) We spent about four hours there and saw almost everything, but easily could’ve spent more time.
There are artifacts of that awful day, of course; a piece of the wall of one of the towers that fell; a fire truck that was used by one of the ladder companies racing to rescue the thousands trapped inside the World Trade Center.

There was also an enormous room called a “historical exhibition” of 9/11/01, that takes you through the leadup/history of 9/11, a minute by minute account with witness audio and video, including some chilling voicemail recordings left by those who didn’t survive, and a thorough examination of the aftermath and the War on Terror that George W. Bush led us into.

What struck me the most, though, was the room full of faces. Nearly 3,000 people died that day, and the Museum was able to find pictures of just about all of them. You walk through the room and see the photos piled high, one on top of each other, and it just takes your breath away.

I could say lots more about the museum, about why it took so long to open, and about how all the memories of that day came flooding back just a few minutes into our visit.

But I’ll just say this: If you’re in New York, it’s an amazing place to see. And as an American, I think it’s a very, very important one.

**Next up, I haven’t blogged about John Oliver in a while, but his show continues to be the best thing on TV this summer. This clip, from Sunday’s show, is about the continued skullduggery of TV preachers, and how they basically steal money from people.

Watch Oliver’s “investigation” and marvel at how easy it is to set up your own church. The clip is long but hilarious all the way through (And just for fun, call the number at the end, we did and it was great.)

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**Finally today, I’m a few days late with this but I still feel it’s important. Every year on or about August 16, the anniversary of his death, I salute in this space the work of the legendary Jim Murray, the greatest sportswriter who ever lived. I still read his old columns sometime, for inspiration, or for a laugh, and the all-time best email I got as a result of writing Wide World of Stuff was from his widow thanking me for remembering him.

And so once again, on the 17th anniversary of his passing (is it possible it’s been that long?), a little bit of Murray greatness.

Here are my two favorite columns of his: First, a touching tribute to his first wife Gerry who had just died. Here’s an excerpt:

She never grew old and now, she never will. She wouldn’t have anyway. She had four children, this rogue husband, a loving family and this great wisdom and great heart, but I always saw her as this little girl running across a field with a swimming suit on her arm, on a summer day on the way to the gravel pit for an afternoon of swimming and laughing. Life just bubbled out of Gerry. We cry for ourselves. Wherever she is today, they can’t believe their good luck.

And second, Murray’s elegy for his left eye, which finally gave out on him in 1979, rendering him mostly blind. The last four paragraphs are just perfect, but here’s another excerpt:

I lost an old friend the other day. He was blue-eyed, impish, he cried a lot with me, saw a great many things with me. I don’t know why he left me. Boredom, perhaps.

We read a lot of books together, we did a lot of crossword puzzles together, we saw films together. He had a pretty exciting life. He saw Babe Ruth hit a home run when we were both 12 years old. He saw Willie Mays steal second base, he saw Maury Wills steal his 104th base. He saw Rocky Marciano get up. I thought he led a pretty good life.

 One night a long time ago he saw this pretty girl who laughed a lot, played the piano and he couldn’t look away from her. Later he looked on as I married this pretty lady.

He saw her through 34 years. He loved to see her laugh, he loved to see her happy …  He recorded the happy moments, the miracle of children, the beauty of a Pacific sunset, snowcapped mountains, faces on Christmas morning. He allowed me to hit fly balls to young sons in uniforms two sizes too large, to see a pretty daughter march in halftime parades. He allowed me to see most of the major sports events of our time. I suppose I should be grateful that he didn’t drift away when I was 12 or 15 or 29 but stuck around over 50 years until we had a vault of memories. 

God, I miss that guy.

A disgraceful party on 9/11 Memorial grounds. The craziest way to do math I’ve seen. And the coolest husband/wife note ever

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Well this just pissed me off something fierce.

There was a lot of fanfare this week here in New York about the grand opening of the 9/11 Memorial Museum, as there should’ve been.

Thirteen years after the attack (and isn’t that just amazing that it’s been that long?), the memorial museum is finally ready to open, and from media reports I’ve read, it sounds spectacular.

But never, not for one second, should anyone who visits, or who manages, the museum forget that it’s built on sacred ground, and that there are still bodies and body parts buried underground there. It’s a special place, a place where so many suffered, and it should be treated with ultimate respect.

Which is why this was pretty disgusting: A VIP-only party was held to “celebrate” the opening of the museum on Tuesday night, featuring ex-mayor Michael Bloomberg and sponsored by Conde Nast. Actual first-responders to 9/11 were turned away from the event, this N.Y. Daily News story reports, and the best part?

The Information Desk on the museum’s lower level was converted into a bar for the night, an employee told the Daily News.

Just disgraceful. You want to have a grand opening party and get drunk and have all kinds of wonderful hors d’ouerves? Fine. Do it down the block, or at any one of 1,000,000 great restaurants in Manhattan.
But people are buried under there! Have some friggin’ respect.

As a palatte cleanser to that disgustingness, here’s a fantastic story from Steve Kandell, whose sister was killed when the World Trade Center was bombed. Kandell went to the museum as part of a special tour for victims’ families last week, and he wrote a beautiful, haunting tale. My favorite paragraph:

I think now of every war memorial I ever yawned through on a class trip, how someone else’s past horror was my vacant diversion and maybe I learned something but I didn’t feel anything. Everyone should have a museum dedicated to the worst day of their life and be forced to attend it with a bunch of tourists from Denmark.
Annotated divorce papers blown up and mounted, interactive exhibits detailing how your mom’s last round of chemo didn’t take, souvenir T-shirts emblazoned with your best friend’s last words before the car crash. And you should have to see for yourself how little your pain matters to a family of five who need to get some food before the kids melt down. Or maybe worse, watch it be co-opted by people who want, for whatever reason, to feel that connection so acutely
.

It’s really a great piece, one that those morons who decided alcohol at the museum grand opening party ought to read.

**Next up, I totally wish I had seen this video when I was struggling with math in high school. It sounds impossible, but this guy shows you how to multiply big numbers just by drawing lines on a piece of paper.
I know, it sounds nuts. But watch and you’ll be kinda amazed like I was.

**Finally today, I saw this on Facebook Wednesday and it made me laugh really hard.
Apparently this was a real note that a woman left her husband in the front of the house recently. Just fantastic:

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