Belated memorial

Honor 9/11 flag

Plans have a funny way of twitching around. I planned to present a few 9/11-associated pictures from New York on Saturday night, but I was feeling moody with a lot of pent-up energy, so I decided to bike to some of the places I was on September 11, 2001. I went to the monument at the west end of Summit Ave., and then up the river to the University East Bank.

As I pulled up to the corner of Harvard St. and the East River Parkway, right at the Fairview-University Medical Center where I was born, a friend called my phone, feeling pissed off. Turns out her birthday is September 11, a fact I'd forgotten since last year. When "Happy Birthday" transitions into "pivotal national catastrophe," that has to bring you down. So we went to the bar.

I don't want to get into more details, but I got all lost in my thoughts and never made it around to post something up for the anniversary. So here are a few from NYC. The picture above (and below) is a flag at the protest rally on the day of Bush's coronation, in Union Square if I recall.

Honor 9/11 flag

The most powerful image, for me, is one that I don't have a picture of. On Monday night, Dan Schned and I had been scooted away from an economic justice protest that the cops cut up with severe prejudice, and we found ourselves across from some delegates having dinner at Cipriati's, near Grand Central Station. I took one picture before my batteries died, of spotlights in the foreground and the interior behind:

cipriati's RNC delegates

As we stood, police escorted a protester from the sidewalk in front of Cipriati's. This spawned a whole confrontation between her, some impromptu advocates, random protesters, the police and legal observers in green hats from the National Lawyer's Guild. A stringer from Reuters named Dan and some other media people all came for a piece.

Dan Schned and I started talking with one Officer Mullin, a short (ok, relative to my standards) NYPD cop who was surprisingly receptive to the protests going on around the city. He even told us how he didn't like the cops when he was young.

I asked Mullin about the significance of the black bar next to his badge that read 'WTC' in gold letters. He said it meant that he was there.

I sort of silently nodded, and he suddenly pulled off his officer's hat. Fixed inside the hat were a few plastic ID cards bearing the photographs of other officers. He said they were officers he'd known that were killed that day. On top, a smiling guy with red hair.

He had grown up with that guy's wife, he said. Now she had two kids to raise.

The way that Mullin looked at me and Dan was so plain, so genuine, it was disconcerting. As if Mullin was an actor playing a police officer on this Manhattan stage we'd walked into. How many times had he pulled his hat off to tell this to visitors like us?

It was the kind of exchange that settles something permanently. Before, for me, there was just the mental picture of a dead cop's family and friends, but now it was real. It was a guy in front of me and a picture in his cap. If only life was always so direct.

Earlier that day, at the economic justice march, I was going along next to the line of motorcycle police separating us from the traffic when I spied a tattoo on a police officer's arm. It read

All Gave Some
Some Gave All
9-11-01

The look in his eyes tells you a lot, but you have to decide what it means for yourself:

9/11 motorcycle cop

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