11 September 2011

"Let us not measure our sorrow by their worth, for then it will have no end."

CNN's Live Coverage of the 10th Anniversary of 9/11 ceremony in New York was everything the viewer could ask for; apart from those idiotic anchors.
Even before the title sequence had finished the names began flashing across the bottom of the screen; a respectful black gash, like an armband, with white lettering. Cindy Ann Deuel, 28, New York, NY. Ten seconds before the next name appears. Jerry Deo, 66, New York, NY. This goes on all day. From 8 in the morning for hours.

There is talk, by the anchors, an old boy and a stocky woman, of the memorial pools, ‘Reflecting Absence’ designed by Michael Arad and Peter Walker. The bleak starkness of Arad tempered by landscape architect Walker. Anderson Cooper and Candy Crowley, the names of the presenters, mean nothing to me. They talk of tranquillity and beauty and of how fitting the pools are. The words ‘changed’, ‘resilient’, ‘hallowed ground’, ‘bricks on your chest’ are mentioned.

The names of every person lost in The Twin Towers, Washington, Pennsylvania and the World Trade Centre bombing in 1993 will be read out during the ceremony. The Names are etched around the edge of both pools. Interesting how they decided to group the names in a pattern called ‘meaningful adjacencies’; by company for example. According to David W. Dunlap  The representatives of the New York City Fire Department and New York City Police Department requested that the names of their officers appear apart from the civilian victims and in addition to the name, indicate service, badge, rank, and assignment. An example would be: "FF. Michael F. Lynch, Badge No. 2315, Engine 40-Ladder 35, on rotation from Engine 62-Ladder 32."

We pop over to The Pentagon. Some beardy guy tries to big up their ceremony but we all know our heart is in New York. At Shanksville they broadcast from a hallowed field containing the memorial. A marble wall with 40 panels, one for each person who died there.

At crucial times corresponding to events on the day the screen will flash up things that happened at  that time.

8.17am we quickly cut to Barack Obama (BO) silently praying. He’s at the World Trade Centre Memorial now pressing flesh and long hugging every one of the gig organisers. Followed by MO, George Bush and his missus. No commentary. Just background noises. The names keep on flashing up at the bottom of the screen. They get bored with that and split screen him doing his thang to talk about ‘heightened security’. Authorities are jumpy.

‘Don’t forget to tweet where you were the day it happened #911whereiwas’ says Anderson as we see shots of BO looking over the pools.

The fire-fighters weren’t invited to the official ceremony so held their own. 343 fire-fighters died on 9/11. No speeches, no politicians; private. Peter Reagan, a fire fighter, says ‘that’s who we are’. Dennis Leary - some of you, like me, may be fans of ‘Rescue Me’, the series focuses on the professional and personal lives of a group of New York City firefighters in the fictitious Ladder 62 / Engine 99 firehouse - says, live on air, ‘it’s complicated..’ 'Rescue Me' are airing their final nine episodes on FX as we speak. Box-set it at Christmas.
‘It’s the water disappearing into nowhere’ stocky lady muses as we are back from the break with a close up on the centre of one of the pools, water gushing over the edge into the black.
I must go to the toilet!
The pipers file round The Pools digitally splitting and pixilating as the live signal blips. Finally they arrive marching on the spot. A choir joins them on the stage. It’s a sea of multicultural faces. Helicopter shot shows the full pageantry. Flag unfurls between the pipers and the choir. All slow and in silence. Cue National Anthem; acapella. Youth and hope and unity and a call for the crops not to fail and, yes they really are, tractor sales are up you know. Straight into Star Spangled Banner the re-edit as they wring another chorus out. A brief pause for applause. Pipers off now. They fold the flag up. Faster than they unfurled it. Don’t know what the tune was but I’m glad it’s finished. Everyone marches off stage to the beat of the drum.  They put the flag on some sort of plinth and salute.

Some guy I don’t recognise starts the next part. Slow speaker, yawn. A moment of silence breaks out as a bell is struck. 8.46 on the clock. Everyone looks sad. You can see what happened here really hurts these people. Still.
OB speaks. ‘We will not fear...The God of Jacob is our refuge’. GB really looks moved and gives OB a look of thanks, tears in his eyes.

The guy I don’t recognise comes back. Mayor Michael Bloomberg says the caption.  I can’t read the badges on his lapel. They could have broadcast it in high definition. Although, quickly looking it is in high def on the BBC. After the Italian Grand Prix.
Names are read out, feedback, embarrassingly, through the first few, a lonely cello accompanies. I was expecting a long few hours but luckily they cut away to talk about ‘heroes’. I wish he’d shut up, I really want to hear the names.

GB suddenly steps up looking grey and old, his voice shakey; ‘blah, blah …..Abraham Lincoln’ then he's off the stage forever.

A son who lost a dad. Clean cut. Smart shirt. Close up on his dead dad’s etched name on The Pool. He wipes a tear from his eye; ‘I miss you so much dad.’

Cello sombres out to a new level. You know it’s Bach. Wistful, slow tracking shots around and across The Pool intertwine with close ups of cello players face.

They’re letting the people in round The Pools now. No one runs but they rush off trying to find their ‘loved ones’ names. They rub the etched name. The names are read out over these shots and the sound turned up. The names still blink on the bottom of the screen.

It’s strangely moving.

Them fuckwit presenters butt in again with their Chinese cracker homilies and benign insights. I know they’re just ‘professionally’ linking in to the Pentagon ceremony but we wanted to stay in NY. We don’t want VP Joe Biden or Admiral Mike Mullen. We want names read out and cello music and to see the people by the memorials. To see grief articulated by real people. To share it.
Back to NY and a close up of a hand rubbing on the etchings. Pulling back everyone is taking photos of the Pool or begins brass rubs of the etched names. It’s good to see people walking amongst the trees and leaning into the pools. 

The sun shines. A fitting remembrance.

My #whereiwas tweet?

I was at work. We had no TV’s but we were online. Someone had footage of the first plane hitting online within minutes. 

Disbelief. We knew the world had changed forever.

Bloomberg's 9/11 speech quotes Shakespeare's Macbeth: "Let us not measure our sorrow by their worth, for then it will have no end."