THE SITE

Sorry I haven’t “blogged” for awhile–three things were going on at the same time: the end of the UN Commission on the Status of Women, a week of preliminary work on the upcoming Commission on Sustainable Development, and the UNANIMA board meeting. Jan and I are not on the board, of course, but we prepared and gave reports on our perspective of the internship program to date. Sister Suzanne was here for the board meeting, and stayed with me. One of the things we found time to do for “fun” was to visit Ground Zero of the World Trade Center. It certainly was not “fun” but more like a peace pilgrimage…

Most of the site itself is still under construction, but the experience that particularly moved me was a visit to Saint Paul’s Chapel (the brown spire visible in the picture). The church itself is worth seeing, as the oldest building of political interest in continuous use in NYC. Built in 1766, this Episcopalian church was where George Washington worshiped when NYC was the seat of American government. Standing right across the street from the World Trade Center, its grounds were covered with debris from the 9/11 tragedy, but it stood unharmed and served as a refuge for volunteer rescuers and aid workers in the search for survivors. It–more than the tourist information center opened for the purpose–has become the focal point for those coming to pay tribute at the site.

The simple exhibits are on a human scale and very accessible; you can reach out and touch many of them. They include tributes (including a big banner from Oklahoma City), an exhibit of colorful badges of all the police and fire fighting units who came to help from all over the nation and the world; another of long, colorful strings of Origami peace cranes from the people of Japan–including surviviors of Hiroshima. There are altars of remembrance, with pictures and religious items from the families and loved ones of the victims. I’m still processing this experience, but it helped me understand what draws people to this site, for motives that have nothing to do with morbid curiosity. It is a moving tribute to our shared humanity…