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Posts Tagged ‘9/11’

Photo: Dezeen magazine.
The translucent walls are made of Pentelic marble. So lovely!

You may recall reading about the Greek Orthodox church near the World Trade Center in New York City that was ruined on September 11, 2001. Fortunately, 9/11 was not the end of the story for that church. Tom Ravenscroft reports at Dezeen about Santiago Calatrava’s new illuminated wonder.

“The St Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, which replaces a church destroyed in the 9/11 attack, has officially opened at the World Trade Center site in New York.

“Designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, the building replaces a 19th-century church that was destroyed on 11 September 2001. … The church is located alongside the 9/11 memorial that stands on the site of the former twin towers.

“It was designed by Calatrava to be a ‘sanctuary for worship’ but also a reminder of the impact of the terrorist attacks. …

“Said Calatrava, ‘I hope to see this structure serve its purpose as a sanctuary for worship but also as a place for reflection on what the city endured and how it is moving forward. [Architecture] can have an intrinsic symbolic value, which is not written or expressed in a specific way but in an abstract and synthetic manner, sending a message and thus leaving a lasting legacy.’

“Built on top of the World Trade Center Vehicle Security Center, the church is raised around 25 feet above (seven metres) above street level and was designed to be a beacon.

“Informed by Byzantine architecture and the Hagia Sofia in Istanbul in particular, the church is arranged around a central drum-shaped form that is topped by a dome.

“The walls of this central section were made from thin sheets of Pentelic marble so that the building can be illuminated at night.

” ‘This Shrine will be a place for everyone who comes to the sacred ground at the World Trade Center, a place for them to imagine and envision a world where mercy is inevitable, reconciliation is desirable, and forgiveness is possible,’ said Ioannis Lambriniadis archbishop elpidophoros of America.

” ‘We will stand here for the centuries to come, as a light on the hill, a shining beacon to the world of what is possible in the human spirit, if we will only allow our light to shine before all people, as the light of this Shrine for the nation will illuminate every night sky to come in our magnificent city.’

“Surrounding the central domed spaces are four stone-clad towers that give the building an overall square shape.

“The entrance to the church, which faces a large open plaza, was placed between two of these towers and leads directly to the main series of liturgical spaces.

“The altar directly faces the entrance, while the two side niches were completed with translucent arched windows. Above the main space, the domed is surrounded by 40 translucent windows divided by 40 stone ribs, reminiscent of the Hagia Sofia.

“Alongside the main liturgical spaces, several community rooms and offices were placed on the upper floors of the towers.

“To mark the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks last year, Dezeen explored how the site was rebuilt and the numerous buildings created on the site including the World Trade Center Transportation Hub, which was also designed by Calatrava.”

More at Dezeen, here. Lots of beautiful photos by Alan Karchmer. No firewall.

The New York Times and many other publications reported on the reopening of the church, now a national landmark. From the article by Jane Margolies: “Olga Pavlakos grew up going to St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in Lower Manhattan. She was baptized there. Her parents were married there. She has memories of her father, who worked in restaurants, volunteering there on Sundays, and of celebrating Epiphany every January, when parishioners would walk to the Hudson River, toss a gold cross into the frigid water and watch divers plunge in to retrieve it. …

“Her connection to St. Nicholas can be traced to her grandparents, who left Greece in the early 1900s and settled in Lower Manhattan, then a bustling immigrant community. Residents there scraped together money and bought a tavern on Cedar Street that they converted to a place of worship, eventually adding a bell at the top.

“These original parishioners, who had arrived by boat, named their church after the patron saint of seafarers — a saint who fed the hungry and clothed the needy and inspired the character of Santa Claus. … The tiny church was obliterated during the terrorist attacks.

“Twenty-one long and difficult years later, St. Nicholas has reopened. But it is no longer a humble church, exclusively for its parishioners. Its mission is larger, as is its splendor.

“St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church & National Shrine, as it’s now called, has become a destination for all. It offers a bereavement center that will serve as a place for meditation and prayer for people of any faith. … The new church is a prominent expression of Orthodox Christianity in the city, and it is a source of great pride for the Greek American community.

“For the few remaining longtime parishioners of St. Nicholas, there is relief that their beloved church has finally reopened. But now, their intimate community hub is a global destination, and some wonder about the future of their once tight-knit parish.” More at the Times here.

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Photo: Vince Talotta / Toronto Star
Tom McKeon’s flight was diverted to Canada on 9/11. He says the warm welcome he received made him lose his cynicism. The musical
Come From Away recounts that many lives were changed in Canada that day.

The kindness of strangers is the never-ending story that provides reassurance about the world when it’s needed. In this instance, the thousands of people whose airplane flights were diverted to Canada on 9/11, were welcomed by Canadians in a life-changing moment. The musical Come From Away lets audiences experience what those travelers experienced.

Bruce DeMara writes at the Toronto Star, “Beverley Bass was the pilot of an American Airlines plane, the 36th of 38 flights diverted to Gander, Newfoundland, on Sept. 11, 2001. Hers is one of numerous stories dramatized in the hit musical Come From Away.

“Bass had seen the show 97 times. Sunday’s red-carpet premiere at the Royal Alexandra Theatre, with a new, all-Canadian cast was her 98th. ‘Honestly, there are still times when I’ll tear up.’ …

“Many of the 7,000 who unexpectedly landed in Newfoundland that day had their lives altered by the generosity of their hosts, but Come From Away has given a certain celebrity status to those whose stories are told by the musical.

“ ‘I receive messages and emails every day from people all over and now I’ve even gotten involved in school projects because . . . I can’t say no to the kids,’ Bass says. …

“Bass has also become involved in volunteering, including taking part in relief efforts last summer when Hurricane Harvey hit south Texas. …

“Tom McKeon, whose character in the show is a cynical New Yorker named Bob, said he’s pleased with how he’s portrayed. …

“Kevin Tuerff, who owned an environmental marketing company in Austin, Texas, said he decided to ‘pay it forward’ a year later on the anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001, and subsequent ones, giving his employees $100 to go out and perform random acts of kindness. … He has most recently become involved in helping refugees and immigrants.

“Being an American refugee — it’s taken me (many) years to reflect on this — but it’s now opened my eyes to the global refugee crisis. So now I’m personally very heavily involved in advocating through my church in helping immigrants and refugees,’ Tuerff said. …

“Hannah O’Rourke lost her eldest child, Kevin, a Brooklyn firefighter trained in rescue operations, on Sept. 11. His body was recovered almost two weeks later in the rubble of the twin towers.

“But O’Rourke made a friend for life in Beulah Davis, whom she met at the Royal Canadian Legion, where O’Rourke stayed and where Davis still volunteers. Davis is also a character in the show and the two women, who call each other every two weeks or so, have been reunited in Toronto in recent days. …

“The loss of her son has taken a heavy toll, O’Rourke added.

“ ‘I (used to be) more outgoing and full of the devil and that. Ah, there’s not a minute of the day that you don’t think, “now he would be enjoying his children and his grandchildren,” ‘ O’Rourke said.

” ‘But I will never forget Gander.’ ”

More here.

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Every once in a while I feel the need to go back to this poem. This is how it ends:

Return in thought to the concert where music flared.
You gathered acorns in the park in autumn
and leaves eddied over the earth’s scars.
Praise the mutilated world
and the gray feather a thrush lost,
and the gentle light that strays and vanishes
and returns.

—Adam Zagajewski (Translated, from the Polish, by Clare Cavanagh.)
Published in the New Yorker, September 24, 2011

In 2011, Newsweek had an interesting piece on the author’s perspective.

“A week after the collapse of the Twin Towers,” wrote Matthew Kaminski, “The New Yorker ran Polish poet Adam Zagajewski’s ‘Try to Praise the Mutilated World’ on the final page of its special 9/11 issue. Written a year and a half before the attacks, the poem nevertheless quickly became the most memorable verse statement on the tragedy, and arguably the best-known poem of the last 10 years. …

“Now 66, Zagajewski is the leading poet of the Polish generation that followed Zbigniew Herbert, Czeslaw Milosz, and Wislawa Szymborska. Milosz called his cohorts ‘the poets of ruin,’ forced to grapple with Poland’s bloody 20th century. Zagajewski fits this description as well. He was an infant when his family was loaded onto cattle cars and deported from their home in Lwów [Lviv], to be relocated by Stalin to the Soviet Union. …

“Polish poets have long thought of themselves as national bards, called to engage with the harsh world around them. ‘Polish poetry is one of the marvels of 20th-century literature,’ wrote former U.S. poet laureate Charles Simic. …

“In Zagajewski’s poetry, cruelty mingles with humor, optimism, and a keen appreciation of nature. ‘Well, why not,’ he says. ‘You write a poem. You are alive. You don’t want to be a humorless person. I think that when you write poems you aspire to something whole that’s bigger than simply lament. In poetry I think you try to reconstruct what’s humanity. Humanity is always a mix of crying and laughing.’ ”

More here.

Photo: Wikimedia
Astronomical twilight as seen from a plane window.

dusk-a330

 

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Photo: Boston Globe
Al Filipov died on Sept. 11. He was on the plane from Boston.

After September 11, 2001, good works sprouted around the country, launched by people from all walks of life who were determined that goodness should have the last say.  The Huffington Post collected a bunch of these initiatives for one anniversary of the tragedy, here, but you can find examples in nearly every community.

In Concord, Al Filipov, who was on one of the planes, is honored in several ways, including by the Filipov Peace and Justice Forum.

Al’s son, Boston Globe reporter David Filipov, once recalled his father as “engineer, inventor, sailor, deacon, coach, husband, dad, raconteur.” The Filipov forum website adds that he was a painter and a human rights activist, noting,

“He sought out the best in people and cared passionately about the world in its beauty and pain. He earnestly believed in the power of an individual to make a difference in the world.”

The 2016 Al Filipov Peace & Justice Forum will take place on September 25 at the Trinity Congregational Church on Walden Street in Concord. Representatives from the Parents Circle-Families Forum are the featured guests. The Parents Circle is made up of bereaved Palestinian and Israeli families that have come together to support “peace, reconciliation and tolerance.”

As one member says in the video below, people from different sides of a conflict need to get to know one another as individuals and share commonalities in order to let go of “being right” all the time instead of creating peace. Otherwise any future agreement is just a cease fire.

The presentation will be from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

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When I was 14, I went to the big city every week to live with my aunt’s family and attend school with a younger cousin.

On winter Mondays I arose in the dark. My mother drove me to the bus station, where I got on a bus with my big suitcase and my book bag — and for a while, a clarinet.

When I disembarked at the Port Authority Bus Terminal, I took a cab to school, and later in the day, I lugged the whole kit ‘n’ kaboodle on a city bus to my aunt’s apartment. That first year there were three other kids in the apartment, with another away at school.

This past Monday, I arose in the dark, put my bags in the car, and drove about the same distance as the bus ride I took Mondays at age 14 to a new job in Providence. I’m staying a couple nights a week with Suzanne’s family, which includes two children under 4. Altogether, it’s an adventure with resonance.

So far, I have only two photos to share: one of a 9/11 tile mural that every man woman and child in Providence seems to have worked on, and one of people ice skating in Kennedy Plaza. I hope to have lots more pictures, especially when I can take my walks outdoors. So far it has been too cold, and I have just walked in the mall, where the sights are not, shall we say, photogenic. I’ve been enjoying the new job and also answering questions from folks at the old job. Having handled a biggish transition when I was 14 makes the current transition feel familiar and rather comfortable.

010616-911-memorial-providence

010616-skating-kennedy-pl-providence

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Sept-11-in-the-Greenway

 

There was an event in the Greenway today to commemorate Sept. 11. A lot of companies volunteered to help the Massachusetts Military Heroes Fund prepare care packages for service men and women.

The fund’s website explains that the care-package service project was to support active duty service members and veterans. Activities included “building 500 military care packages for our service men and women overseas, writing letters of support to our troops, building care packages for our local veterans in need, and a pledge drive for the families supported by the Massachusetts Military Heroes Fund.” More here.

I saw the mayor having his picture taken, so I took his picture, too.

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh at 9/11 service project in the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway.
091114-Maypr-Marty-Walsh

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Try to praise the mutilated world.

Remember June’s long days,
and wild strawberries, drops of wine, the dew.
The nettles that methodically overgrow
the abandoned homesteads of exiles.
You must praise the mutilated world.
You watched the stylish yachts and ships;
one of them had a long trip ahead of it,
while salty oblivion awaited others.
You’ve seen the refugees heading nowhere,
you’ve heard the executioners sing joyfully.
You should praise the mutilated world.
Remember the moments when we were together
in a white room and the curtain fluttered.
Return in thought to the concert where music flared.
You gathered acorns in the park in autumn
and leaves eddied over the earth’s scars.
Praise the mutilated world
and the gray feather a thrush lost,
and the gentle light that strays and vanishes
and returns.

—Adam Zagajewski (Translated, from the Polish, by Clare Cavanagh.)
Published in the New Yorker, September 24, 2011

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