Notes and photography by Tor de Vries.
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I took these pictures exactly one week after the Twin Towers fell.
The Brooklyn Bridge was closed to most traffic, a sight I have never seen before.
By tradition, Americans believe that their flag is a living object because it represents a living nation. One nearby florist put this into practice with a flag made of fresh flowers suspended over the storefront, maintained for several weeks.
A reporter for the New York Post asked me if the threat of more terrorist acts made me reconsider coming to work. Well, of course. Everyone says that New York City is where anything can happen, but we never meant this.
At that time, my office was three blocks east of the former World Trade Center. The only damage to the building I worked in was to the ventilation system, which had to be cleaned out and re-approved by the EPA. During the weeks it took, we opened windows and wore shorts, t-shirts and dust masks. Lots of people wore dust masks; in fact, Lower Manhattan was sold out of them, and I had to buy them upstate for the entire office.
Other buildings were still without power. Some companies rented truck-sized generators for backup, dropping the power lines through the windows.
Until it shut down in the summer of 2001, a company called Metricom offered Ricochet, a wireless Internet access service. They had their own network of wireless towers scattered around the city. Former Metricom employees voluntarily revived the Ricochet network, temporarily, so rescue workers could communicate despite the near-total loss of land and cellular phone services.
Many restaurants donated food to the rescue workers. Behind the McDonalds booths were thousands of packaged hamburger buns and ketchup packets.
Most stores in the area did not reopen for another week or two. Written in the dusty windows were words of defiance from passers by, mixed with the signatures of hundreds of rescue workers. It was incredible to read messages left by fire departments from Upstate New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Ohio, Vermont, Maine, even parts of Canada.
My wife and I were supposed to be at the World Trade Center that morning. We had recently moved out of the city, and I commuted by train on Tuesdays and Fridays while telecommuting on other weekdays. Monday morning at 3:00am sharp, I was startled awake by God telling me to go into the office on Monday instead of Tuesday. As usual, I argued with Him for awhile because I had a million reasons to work from home that day. He did not budge, so I went. My wife stayed home, although she had expected to join me on Tuesday so we could run errands together in the shopping mall beneath the Twin Towers.
On Tuesday morning, I prepared to work from home. Around 9:00am, I received a hurried message from my companys president, mentioning terrorist attacks and an evacuation. We immediately turned on the news. There, live on television, we watched the second plane hit and both towers collapse. I was overwhelmed. My wife wept. God knew. God knew.
Now listen, you who say, Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money. Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, If it is the Lords will, we will live and do this or that.
James 4:13-15 (NIV)
Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me.
Psalm 23:4 (NIV)
His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.... For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways.
Psalm 91:4-7, 11 (NIV)
Over three thousand people are dead or missing as a result of the September 11 terrorist attacks in America. If you held a minute of silence for each of these people, you would be quiet for more than two days. If you wrote a letter to every affected family, one letter per day, you would be writing for nine years.
Shrines of remembrance quickly formed around New York, many of them remaining even several weeks later. Conversations ceased as people passed by, looking quietly at the photographs of the missing and the dead, surrounded by flowers, candles, and words of prayer and support.
President George W. Bush
NYC Mayor Rudolph Guiliani, to the United Nations General Assembly
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All photography, notes and layout on this web site are copyright ©2001-2002 Tor de Vries, all rights reserved. No reproduction, exhibition or commercial presentation is allowed without prior written authorization from Tor de Vries. Last updated July 4, 2002.
All photography, notes and layout on this web site are copyright ©2001-2002 Tor de Vries, all rights reserved. No reproduction, exhibition or commercial presentation is allowed without prior written authorization from Tor de Vries.
Last updated July 4, 2002.