Sunday, August 14, 2011

Infinite Lights: A Decade of 9/11 Tribute Lights 9/11/2001 - 9/11/2011

September 11, 2001. We all remember that day and where we were when the attacks happened. I was in a in Massachusetts, teaching mathematics at a classroom full of high school students. I remember a lady knocked and then entered the room. She whispered to me that two planes hit the Twin Towers. She advised to tell students only at the end of the class.
9/11 Lights, 9/11/2004. by Alina Oswald
9/11 Lights, 9/11/2004. by Alina Oswald

Afterwards, when we joined the others in the cafeteria, we were not prepared to see the images flickering on the TV screens. Everybody was in shock--mouth open, waiting breathless for the bits of information trickling in from reporters as shocked as we were. Nobody knew yet what had really happened, or why...

I remember the empty, quiet skies over the Boston area, the cars with their headlights on during the day, the music-less radio stations on the commute to/from work. I remember the longing for the time when we were all complaining about the noise in the sky, the noise that we would have done anything to hear at that moment (after all, Logan airport wasn't that far away). The noise would have meant that we were just finding our ways through yet just another crazy, chaotic day... Yet, the noise was not there. The sky was quiet and empty.
Peeking Through the Twin Towers Beams at Lower Manhattan. Photo by Alina Oswald. All Rights Reserved.
Peeking Through the Twin Towers Beams

I remember crying while driving back home, although I didn't know anybody working in the World Trade Center or New York City for that matter. I remember the first song that finally aired on the radio, days after the attacks, was the national anthem.

Later on, in the evening, I'd walk the one-subway-station distance to Harvard Square to join those gathering there, holding hands and candles. Their grim faces only punctuated the general mood.

In the wake of 9/11 of 2001, somehow, we all became an entity, a One--more like that One-ness yogis talk about, at times. We became united, more... good, to paraphrase a character from Angels in America (one of my favorite movies). People would help their fellow... people on the streets, they would be kind, more compassionate to one another.

It was an eerie time, a time sketched out by shock and disbelief, loss and mourning, uncertainty... maybe fear. In 2001, September 11th Tuesday followed the Labor Day weekend and my visit to New York City--which had included a stroll in Lower Manhattan and Battery Park. To be able to see the Towers in all their height I had had to curve my spine backwards, stretching it into a full arch, a semi-circle. I had been in owe with the majestic beauty of the World Trade Center towers and the gigantic globe resting at their feet.

Unfortunately, I never made it inside the Towers, or up on the top, to take in the panoramic view. Now that chance has vanished, forever. The Towers turned into rubble. The place where they used to stand is now known as Ground Zero. What's left of the gigantic globe at the foot of the Twin Towers rests now in Battery Park.

I moved to New York City area a few years later. I took on photography. Each year on 9/11, I go photograph the Tribute Lights--the blue infinite lights that bypass clouds and fog and rain to remind us of that day, of those we've lost in the attacks, and also of our capability of being united, kind, and compassionate.

Although each September 11th I make a point to photograph the morning ceremonies and the evening lights, I don't stop at that. I try to capture 9/11-related images every chance I get, because we should never forget--not on 9/11, nor on any other day of the year. I'm fascinated by the blue lights--by the feeling of serenity and peacefulness they evoke. I hope to capture their majestic reflection against the Manhattan skyline once again this September 11th... or at least that's the plan.

As always, thanks for visiting,
Alina Oswald
Author of Infinite Lights: A Collection of 9/11-Related Photography

No comments:

Post a Comment