Sundeep Bhutoria

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ess bee

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Sunday, September 16, 2012

9/11 Remembrance Day - ground zero

Last weekend I was in New York before coming to London and it was the 9/11 week in New York - 11 years since the twin tower tragedy struck.
Television channels beamed directly from ground zero and also from Washington DC where President Barrack Obama and the First Lady of USA paid their tributes to those who died in the tragedy.
New York Police Department Commissioner Ray Kelly went live on television assuring “...there are no credible threats today.” He said that US had invested a lot of effort and time to protect itself from another terrorist attack, but there are no guarantees. The NYPD cast a security net over the city from a day earlier using all kinds of modern equipment.
The 9/11 function was confined to the family members and US government officials. So I decided, and did manage, to get entry tickets to the Memorial for the eve of 9/11 as the site was slated to be off limits for visitors from 4 pm onward. Thanks to one of the Millennium Hotel concierge team members who managed to get me an entry ticket for the last visit on the eve of 9/11.
It was very crowded but the queue was disciplined. 
It took half-an-hour to reach inside the National September 11 Memorial (picture) after clearing security checks and points. The mood was sad as people shed tears and passed silently looking at the inscriptions in bronze panels of names of the victims who died. Few of them offered flowers and wreaths.
I have special and unforgettable memories linked to the 9/11. I was there in New York in 2001 and on that ill-fated day and had watched in horror from my room in this very same Millennium Hotel as the planes flew into the twin towers. In fact, I had, a day earlier, planned a visit to the North Tower in the morning with few friends and UN officials, but postponed my plans when I got a call from the Indian Mission requesting to visit them. I lived to tell my tale.
The Memorial honours 2,938 men, women and children who died in the twin tower terror attack on September 11 in 2001 and at the Pentagon and the February 1993 World Trade Centre bombings.
The Memorial, which was opened last year, has twin reflecting pools as the footprint of where the original twin towers stood. The largest man-made waterfalls in North America cascades into the pools and then on to a central void. The names of the victims are inscribed on bronze parapets around the pool. In 2003 an International Design Competition was held which received a total for 5,201 designs from 63 countries. Architect Michael Arad from New York won the competition.
Once complete, the surrounding Metro Plaza would have 400 swamp white Oak trees selected from nurseries within a radius of 500 miles of the attack sides.
No one and nothing can bring the lives back but we would always remember them. What a tribute indeed!
ess bee

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