Month Nine: Memorial Days
|Hunting and gathering|
The city pauses in the last week of May, to observe public and private memorials.
On Memorial Day, I wake up early, on Long Island, and collect mussels with my Grandparents.
Back in the city, Memorial Bloomberg drops a wreath into the Hudson, but out here there are memorials enough: a copy of Here is New York, which I’ve never read before,
a small, forgotten headstone in the myrtle,
and an accidental still-life.
|Memorial Day BBQ at Nancy Whiskey|
It’s Fleet Week, and at a local pub I sit down next to an NYPD officer and three sailors from the USS Boone.
They are talking, and after a while the officer says, “I want you all to see this,” unbuttoning his shirt to reveal a tattoo over his heart: an eagle rampant in front of an image of twin towers, with FDNY and NYPD written below. “I went in and designed it myself. I lost friends on both sides. We’re so far removed from the anger of the world, and we thought we were free and unpenetrable.”
The Navy men reply, “God Bless America.”
|Love from England|
|Diner in Croton-on-Hudson, NY|
Some memorials are new, some have the patina of age.
|Missing: pair 110 story office buildings|
A new, eerie reminder begins circulating via email: three folds in a $20 bill create the apparent image of two burning towers.
A friend warns me: “Don’t go showing that to any police officers.”
|The cutting ceremony|
The night after Memorial Day is the last official shift on the site. A symbolic final beam is cut down by union workers working in turn, then laid on a truck and draped in black cloth and an American flag.
|After the ceremony|
Two hours later, the site is empty.
|Setting up shop|
The beam is driven out the following morning, May 30, the original Memorial Day established by Abraham Lincoln.
Sailors from the USS Iwojima join with union workers to escort the beam out of the site.
|Waiting by the Tribeca Bridge|
We wait on West Street.
|Keep it up|
Preceeded by a flight of 5 helicopters and an ambulance carrying an empty stretcher, the beam moves up West Street to Canal Street, saluted all the way.
|Stretcher and beam|
|The last beam leaves Manhattan|
At Canal Street, it turns toward the Brooklyn Bridge, crossing Manhattan and away to a hangar at JFK.