Memorial Day

Let me begin by saying that I take Memorial Day seriously for its intended purpose. In my immediate family, I have two World War II vets (both now dead), a Korea vet, and a post-Vietnam volunteer vet. Mrs. __B has several World War II vets in her immediate family, all of whom served in Russia on Eastern Front. Despite this, amazingly, neither of us is related to anyone killed in action.

Memorial Day has taken on another meaning for a subset of New Yorkers. It’s when the site clean-up at the World Trade Center officially ended in 2002. There was nothing resembling debris left on site, so that was the end. “Reconstruction” officially began the next day, although meaningful reconstruction didn’t get going for months after.

I was long gone by May 2002. I reached my limit in late November 2001. My decision to stop was the combination of very long hours on site; physical difficulties with my feet, knees, and back that were getting worse each time I went to the site; my disgust with the encroachment of politics, business promotion, and petty inter-agency jealousy into what had been a volunteer effort; and most of all, my overwhelming sense of being emotionally drained. I could have kept going, but when I think about the long-term effects that I have had, I shudder to think how bad they would have been with another six months on site.