Thursday, May 30, 2002

what a somber feeling to stand in my office window and look out at the ceremony today over ground zero at 10:29am. . .

as i was on the 31st floor of our building at the corner of church and cortlandt, all of us here in the office could barely hear the "5 times 4," or the bell-ringing that marked the start of the ceremony. this manner of bell-ringing is a tradition of the new york fire department.

it was a beautiful but somewhat hazy day. bright red tugboats plied their way up the hudson, with a police boat standing by. overhead flew news helicopters and 2 military helicopters. the streets were lined with people, as were all the terraces of the world financial center; people even thronged on the unfinished portions of the winter garden. from my vantage point i could see straight down onto church st.; to the left to vesey/liberty st.; forward to west st., the highway; and as far as fulton st. on the right.

but like all the spectators my eyes were focused on the long ramp, hung with flags and banners, that led down into the ground-zero pit. firemen, policemen, national guard, and other uniformed agencies formed a cordon on either side. down at the foot stood the band and bagpipers in formation. the shrouded and flag-draped "last pillar" lay on a flatbed truck with a bright yellow cab, with another flag flying at the back. the red and white ambulance sat waiting about 2/3 of the way up the ramp. with great solemnity an honor guard accompanied the flag-covered stretcher representing those tragic victims whose bodies have not been found. two men at front, six to carry, and two at the back. after the stretcher was laid in the ambulance, it slowly moved up the ramp; the honor guard split, to reform around the ambulance, and the band and bagpipers marched slowly up the ramp to a mournful tattoo.

from my vantage point, we could hear the rumble of the drums. all my colleagues were in quiet tears around me. the last pillar followed up the ramp. the ambulance stopped for a time underneath the west st. pedestrian overpass, and the band stopped behind them. as the pillar approached, the ambulance and band both slowly moved forward. the ambulance stopped after turning onto west st. and band followed. as the pillar moved under the overpass, the truck paused. 2 buglers blew a melancholy taps, and 5 nypd helicopters, in sleek blue and white, flew by overhead in a "v" formation. the entire cortege moved forward -- the cordon of uniformed officers began to peel away from the sides of ramp, starting at the bottom, and marched in a dignified reel up behind the pillar. the crowd erupted in cheers and applause loud enough for us to hear, even so far up. firefighters marched slowly up the church st. side as well, to great acclaim from the spectators.

the main procession moved up west st. and crossed fulton, out of my sight and into all our hearts. (news report here.)

for those interested, quick highlights of the world trade center coverage on this site:

the day
the day after
another view
vigil on the brooklyn promenade
my return to downtown
century 21 re-opens
3 months
6 months

posted by fortune | 9:15 AM | top | link to this | email this: | links to this post | | 0 comments

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