New York City the Most International of all Cities
Just a couple of days ago, New York City was selected as the American candidate to host the 2012 Olympics.
Today, November 3rd, was one of my favorite days in New York City: the annual NYC Marathon Race! Over 32,000 people ran the 26.2 mile course, passing through each of the City's five boroughsStaten Island, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Manhattan. Ninety-eight different countries were represented in the race by the 13,000 athletes who came to New York to participate in world's greatest race.
And what more appropriate place for such an event than New York City, whose 8 million residents originate from 188 of the world's 191 countries, including the marathon's late and beloved founder, Fred Lebow a Romanian, who died of brain cancer in 1994. This year's male and female winners Joyce Chepchunga and Rogers Rop are both from Kenya, as are 2nd and 3rd place male finishers. The 2nd and 3rd place female winners came from Russia and Yugoslavia respectively.
Following the top runners were marathoners of every size, shape, color and age. Today's oldest runner was 92. Some wore funny costumes; others carried flags of their country or wore Americas starts and stripes or both; many ran to benefit charities or good causes; and some ran in honor of their loved ones lost on 9/11. They were fit, or fat, or even disabled. In fact, the race has an official wheelchair division. And the wonderful
Achilles Track Club of physically disabled athletes (with 110 chapters on six continents) had 200 participants this year. These remarkable athletes, along with their companion guides, always finish the race.
In fact, 98% of all runners complete the course!
But they had help. Two million spectators lined the streets of New York City to cheer them on. It was a marvellous sight! One that brought tears of pride and joy to many an eye, including my own.
Imagine a day like today lasting for two weeks!
NYC's economy is still stuggling to recover from the 9/11/01 terrorist attacks that destroyed the World Trade Center. There are over 200,000 people still out of work in New York. Revelations of corporate CEO corruption and fraud, which has robbed millions of trusting stockholders of their savings and pensions, have all but flattened Wall Street and only exacerbated the City's already terrible financial state. The City's budget has sunk from a $7 billion surplus, to a $5 billion deficit. While few new jobs are available, hundreds, if not thousands, of jobs continue to be lost each month through layoffs and business failures.
People without jobs can no longer freely spend their money on goods and services, at the same time paying sales taxes to the City. Businesses without enough clientele must either cut back employees or totally shut down, leaving more people out of work, and depriving the City of even more tax revenue. The Unemployed, without income, don't pay income tax. Deprived of sales, business and income tax revenues, the City must cut back on services and personnel, resulting in even more unemployed who can no longer spend freely and provide tax revenue.
When and how will this cycle end? Just how long can the innocent victims of terrorism, corporate corruption, fraud and greed
survive their financial (and emotional) depression?
So what will become of the WTC site now?
No one is sure yet. Some people want the 16 acres of now sacred ground untouched by commercial interests. Others wanted to raise another 100-storey commercial tower in a show of defiance an idea largly vetoed by the local public. (Who would be willing to work in it?) More likely, it will be a combination of memorial, culture center and commerce.
I felt privilaged to have been a Red Cross volunteer at Ground Zero after the 9-11 attacks, and to be one of the almost 5,000 citizens who participated in the Listening to City forum at the Javitz Center on July 20th to express my views on the rebuilding of the site. The six architechtural designs presented to us by the big corporate firms were flatly rejected by over 60% of all participants. The leaders were stunned by our staighforward opinions and the reasons behind them. And because the forum was so heavily covered by the news media, we could not be ignored. It was a remarkable display of democracy at its finest.
For once, the voice of the people ruled!
Now the design competition has been opened up to a wider variety of architectural firmsboth large and smallwho will incorporate the ideas heard at the forum. We anxiously await the results.
Personally, I would like to see a chapel built in the space between where the two towers stood; a small non-denominational hall where all believersand non-believerscan come and sit and reflect or pray. A place where Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu or any other belief might be allowed to hold a service for their followers. But mainly, it would be a simple, quiet and reverential place for people, whether workers or tourists, to remember those lost, regardless of season or inclement weather. The entry might contain photographs of the WTC plaza, the towers (interior and exterior) and the other WTC buildings that were destroyed, as well as statistical data about the site & buildings.
On the exact spaces where the twin towers stood, I would like to see twin memorial parks with grassy lawns and flower beds, a walking path and stone benches. Standing within its bounds should be some remnants of the former WTC: the piece of waffle-like frame from the tower's facade; the steel girder cross that stood over the clean-up workers; the last-standing steel beam that was just removed; or the damaged, but still beautiful golden globe that once stood in the center of the fountain in the WTC's former plaza. Perhaps an identical miniature version of the fountain could be set in the center of one of the parks.
Somewhere there should be a plaque naming the former companies housed in the towers and a list of the people who died there. Another plaque should list all of the uniformed officers and rescuers who died.
There might also be a designated spot where visitors could leave flowers, mementos and personal wishes-similar to the items of condolence left on the fences of St. Paulís chapel, and as one often leaves at a gravesite.
I believe every New Yorker would like to visit a true memorial of our great World Trade Center, with real relics of what once was there. I can think of no better reminders of our city's terrible loss.
"I have an idea that some men are born out of their due place. Accident has cast them amid certain surroundings, but they have always a nostalgia for a home they know not. They are strangers in their birthplace, and the leafy lanes they have known from childhood or the populous streets in which they have played, remain but a place of passage. They may spend their whole lives aliens among their kindred and remain aloof among the only scenes they have ever known. Perhaps it is this sense of strangeness that sends men far and wide in the search for something permanent, to which they may attach themselves. Perhaps some deep-rooted atavism urges the wanderer back to lands which his ancestors left in the dim beginnings of history. Sometimes a man hits upon a place to which he mysteriously feels that he belongs. Here is the home he sought, and he will settle amid scenes that he has never seen before, among men he has never known, as though they were familiar to him from his birth. Here at last he finds rest."
The Moon and Sixpence by Somerset Maugham, 1919
(It goes for women, too.)
It Can Never Was |
I'd rather be a Could Be
if I could not be an Are
because a Could Be is a Maybe
with a chance of reaching par.
I'd rather be a Has Been
than a Might Have Been by far
because a Might Have Been has never been
but a Has Been was an Are.
Why do soda bottles have lumpy, uneven bottoms that donít stand up steadily on wire grid refrigerator shelves?
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