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A Day in September

By Dr. Wayne Willis

     At midday on Sunday, June 28, 2015, drizzly fog enshrouded New York City. You could see only the bottom third of the World Trade Center.
     But you could see clearly the 3,000 names of those who perished on Tuesday morning, Sept. 11, 2001. Each name was etched in bronze above the waterfalls and memorial pools that mark the footprints of what were called then the Twin Towers.
     Visitors shuffled in somber silence around the pools. Some carried umbrellas, some wore ponchos and some just let droplets form and roll down their faces. Some had brought a rose or a little American flag to stand in one of the names' hollowed-out letters.
     There also were tourists who did not understand or were too young to remember. They were there to make smiling selfies or to pose for another group shot in front of another landmark.
     The moisture on the slanted tablets formed drops and ran over the edge. My wife whispered that the drops as they fell off looked like tears.
     Since the memorial opened on Sept. 11, 2011, millions of visitors leaning over the waterfalls to look down into the pools have polished the tablets' edge into a lighter shade of bronze.
     Most wrenching for me was the square hole in the middle of each pool. Cascading water appears to disappear into an abyss. I whispered to my wife that the squares look like big black holes, holes crying out: "What utter waste! Utter absence, utter void, an unfillable hole is all that is left for 3,000 families and their communities."
     On 9/11, when a reporter asked in a hastily-convened press conference just hours after the towers fell how many lives had been lost, Mayor Giuliani lamented: "More than any of us can bear."
     And life goes on.