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Angels in a Red Truck

Everywhere I go in New York there are reminders – memorials, plaques, planted trees, street art – of that hopeful September day… September 11th 2001. For me, not having yet been to Ground Zero (scheduled for tomorrow) this was the most touching of them all.

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It is a tile placed on a rusty chain-wire fence not far from the Meat Packing district, a district just north east of Ground Zero where the World Trade Centre once stood proud. On this tile is a poem titled 'Angles in a Red Truck'. The rusty fence contains hundreds of other tiles of differing size and shape. Some only contain painted images, most commonly the American flag or some kind of abstract representation of it. Others contain something written, whether this be the names of lost loved ones; poetry or a short story.

This site situated at the meeting of Greenwich Ave, 7th Ave, and 11th Street is old, older than 2001 I have to assume by eye, but for a reason unknown to me it has been used to capture, as well as release, the heart felt sorrow and pain of people from the world over. Even whilst there a young girl, maybe 20 something sat with a councilor trying to let go of that day.

In many ways this rusty fence brings back images of the bent broken metal frame of the fallen towers – the way it criss-crosses and interweaves. I suppose it also symbolises, quite well now I think of it, the grid pattern of NYC and its patina covered streets. There is a scary juxtaposition to them: One being a building carefully and thoughtfully designed by a team of engineers and the other… a fence which also at some point was engineered. Sadly though only the fence remains.

On the Greenwich Ave side, laid with a purposeful intent, is a cushion. Placed on top of this cushion are broken pieces of tiles which have over the years lost grip with the corroding fence and fallen to the concrete path below – possibly symbolising the makers ability to emotionally let go or also there inability or struggle to hold on… to hold it together? Surrounding this cushion are flowers – sunflowers – and candles lit day and night.

In the background, not that it’s visible due to the buildings surrounding the site, a new World Trade Centre is being erected. The urban renewal of Ground Zero makes me wonder: what will one day come of THIS site? Will a chain wire fence stand longer than the towers it now pays respect to?

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To be here and smell the smells; hear the sirens fade and grow in the background – possibly sirens of vehicles used that day. To feel the pavement below my feet – a pavement which would have been covered with the towers ashes – is beyond touching. It grabs you from deep within and wrenches at your heart! If you’re ever in New York you must go here! It’s a place I won’t be forgetting too soon, if ever.

Even whilst sitting here typing the hostels desk clerk came and sat down next to me and asked, without knowing what I had just written, “have I visited Ground Zero yet?”. I explained what I just wrote and he filled me in about the relevance if the ‘Tiles for America’ site. A church is located next door and the churches pastor, a past fire fighter, went to the stricken towers to help and sadly he never returned.

“For every noble life they give… there’s several more they save”

The receptionist was on a roof top, the roof of his work, in Harlem watching as the second tower fell.

Categories: Blog
Posted by Brett Wawn on August 23, 2012

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