TOWERS OF LIGHT
photo courtesy OTTO PETERSEN/WNBC-TV/NEW YORK CITY
In New York, my friends and I gathered that evening to see
the towers of light which were about to be lit in memory of
In an corner office at 45th Street and Third Avenue we had
an unobstructed-and spectacular-view of all of Lower Manhattan.
We were there as dusk fell on this clear and cold night.
Manhattan's familiar light show was in front of us, accented
by the distinctive spires of the early 20th Century; Con Edison's
clocktower, The Met Life Building, and New York Life's pointy
tops added drama to the boxy geometry of Midtown. As it became
dark, the lights of the Empire State Building faded up: the
mooring tower in blue, the capital red and white,
slowly at first, and then up to brilliant full-strength.
Our landmark was the American Express Building, the pyramid-topped
the World Financial Center- the light arrays are across West
there. In the darkened office suite we looked downtown at
Amex while we
listened to a news radio broadcast of the dedication.
At 6:55, a girl orphaned by the Trade Center attack threw
the switch and the
lights came on. Two distinct and astonishingly tall beams
of grayish white
light appeared, beamed straight up and met in a circle far
into the sky.
Opera singer Jesse Norman at that moment began to sing "America
Beautiful," and we were very quiet. After a couple of
minutes we turned the
radio off and just looked at our city before us. The idea
of having a
memorial of light seems to have been embraced by New Yorkers
as a fitting and
appropriate concept. It still is difficult to get consensus
Yorkers about anything concerning the city and its' political
life, so it
surprised many that this was staged so quickly and endorsed
so strongly, by
citizens, survivors and the families of those lost.
The lights are not exactly at the site of the towers themselves-
recovery effort, which goes on 24/7, prevents that. But the
arrays, set on
two stages on West Street, are only a block away from the
site. And from most
places in the area they do appear as two distinct beams, and
recall the silvery square shape of the North and South Towers.
As we watched this wonderful view, my feeling was one of
pride. I'd spent
several hours down at the site on Saturday. Through that time,
again I felt so proud to be a New Yorker. So much has been
so many come to the site in order to experience the emotions
and confront the
reality of the loss- which is astonishing in it's physical,
and psychic scale.
March 11 here was a day like any other in many ways- a work
day, a school
day, a day to commute home from the city and try to relax.
But it is not yet
easy for New Yorkers to relax- loud sounds still bring some
of them up short,
and hearing a jet plane makes heads turn at Ground Zero. Most
turn to the attacks at some point. So much, and so many, remains
About the Author
Nancy LeMay is a five-time Emmy winning broadcast designer
who has worked both in New York and LA, in network and local.
She is a teacher and a painter as well. You can reach her
through her website, www.Nancylemay.com
and by email at NancyLeMayCo@aol.com