Thursday, September 11, 2014

Remembering 9/11 Through the Tears of the NYPD

I grew up in New York City, and although I lived in Los Angeles on September 11, 2001, the searing live television images of the World Trade Center towers burning and then collapsing brought tears and shock and anger that morning. 

I wasn't able to visit the Northeast until May of the following year. A long line led to the platform overlooking Ground Zero, and on street corners and in alleyways all around downtown, people looked, remembered, and anguished.

But perhaps my most vivid experience took place that same week in Washington, D.C. It was  National Police Week. I hadn't known in advance, but the unusual number of cops in my hotel led me to ask what was going on. In fact, it was the first police week since 9/11. 

The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial is in Judiciary Square, site of the Supreme Court building. A low wall encircles the site, inscribed with the names of every fallen federal, state and local officer dating back to the 1800s. Crowds of officers from every part of the country were at the site, with most gathered around the area reserved for the New York Police Department. The NYPD lost 23 members on 9/11; 37 Port Authority officers  also lost their lives. 

My connection to the NYPD is personal. I served as a civilian volunteer for three years, grew up with two uncles on the force, and my great-grandfather also served. On that day in May, 2002, I watched big, burly men - some in uniform - shed tears as they remembered their comrades whose names had been inscribed on that wall. This image is dedicated to those fallen officers.