When we recently brought our son, Lucas, to visit Liberty Island and to see his grandfather's name on the Immigrant Wall of Honor on Ellis Island, our eyes, hearts and minds couldn't help focusing on the new Liberty Tower across the Hudson in Manhattan, and to the empty space in the sky where our beloved Twin Towers once stood. Lisa and I felt it strongly. Lisa used to work in the Towers when she first started her career in the financial industry. Once during a power blackout, she actually had to walk down 102 floors in the narrow, over-crowded, pitch black stairway to get back to ground level. Because of this, she had a first hand feel for what a nightmare it must have been for rescuers and workers alike trying to negotiate their way through the inadequately sized and poorly lit stairways of the Twin Towers during that frightening and terrible ordeal.
As a teen, I watched from the New Jersey Palisades as the Towers started going up. They became part of the New York skyline just about the time when I was starting my career as a photographer in Manhattan. I had been to them many times as a businessman in Manhattan visiting either the City, State or Internal Revenue offices that were tenants there. I had shopped and eaten lunch in the Mall underground. In later years, I cycled past them daily on my ten-mile bicycle rides along the Hudson and East Rivers. Whenever I left home, the Towers were there at the foot of Manhattan or in the nighttime illuminated skyline as I drove back from Kennedy Airport. I also have done a lot of boating around Manhattan waters, the Twin Towers always shining down on us or glowing like a beacon at night. I once was fortunate enough to fly in a vintage biplane within close range to the Towers, looking up at them from my windy, piston-firing perch. That was quite an experience.
On 9/11, Lisa was working down on Wall Street, only a half block from the Twin Towers. For some reason or other, Lisa had decided to work at home on 9/11. Her plan was originally to go down into the shopping mall underneath the Towers to buy me a present for our upcoming wedding anniversary. She had planned to shop early in the morning, before starting work. That would have been around 9am.
We didn't even think of this as we watched the first Tower burn, and then saw the second plane crash into the second Tower on live TV that horrible, bright sunny morning. It was only when we saw the first tower collapse that we suddenly looked at each other, realizing the happenstance that kept Lisa away from this disaster that morning.
This changed our life forever. When we saw the madness in the world, we decided to concentrate on making our own little part of the world better... and have a child.
Lucas is our tribute to the souls lost on 9/11. In August of 2003 he was born--three weeks early and anxious to start his new adventure. He is all love. He is everything that is right about the world. He is our hope for the future. He is our way to fight back against the madness and leave our amazing boy to hopefully make the world a better place... even if only in his small part of it.
Remembering the glory of those magnificent Towers and the Souls lost on that terrible day...