Travel Tuesdays S1E21 – National September 11 Memorial and Museum

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052It seemed appropriate to write about the National September 11 Memorial and Museum today. I do want to clarify a couple of things. First the National September 11 Memorial and Museum is currently just a Memorial. The projected date for the Museum to open is Spring 2014. Secondly even though it is called the National September 11 Memorial and Museum it is not funded by or overseen by the government. It is a private entity and funded by donations. The Memorial recognizes all who were killed at the three attack locations on September 11, 2001 – World Trade Center, Shanksville, PA and the Pentagon. It also recognizes the 6 people including the pregnant woman and her unborn child who were killed in the Feb 26, 1993 terrorist bombing at the World Trade Center.

I would suggest you start your visit to the Memorial and the Tribute Center, 120 Liberty St where you can view 5 small galleries that tell the timeline of September 11 from the attacks to the rebuilding and sign up for a walking tour. The Tribute Center is a project of the September 11 Families Association and opened in September of 2006. Walking tours led by volunteers who have a personal connection to September 11 started in the fall of 2005. Each walking tour is led by either a family member, first responder, downtown resident, survivor or someone who volunteered at the site. The basic concept behind Tribute is person to person history. You will hear the facts of September 11, the development of the original WTC will be discussed, the rescue, the recovery and the rebuilding will be explained. But by far the most amazing part will be hearing the stories of the two docents leading your tour. I have personally been volunteering since February 2006.

The tour starts at the Tribute Center, proceeds to Greenwich Street where you see and learn about the FDNY Memorial. This is also the “Photo Op Spot” to get the great photo of 1 WTC and 7 WTC. Once you are on the Memorial you are too close to 1 WTC to get a photo of the whole building. The tour then continues through security, under the south bridge which is the last remaining above ground piece of the original WTC. One more security checkpoint and you are standing on the Memorial Plaza. If the buildings were still standing, you would be in the lobby of the Marriott (formerly the Vista) Hotel. The Memorial Plaza is and should be considered hallowed ground. Of the 2,749 people who were killed here on September 11, 2001, 40% of their families have never had any human remains. One of the first things you will notice is the trees. When the Memorial Plaza is completed there will be 400 trees. If you look north to south, the trees appear to be random. In a few years the trees will have grown to their full height, as you look east to west the tress will be arched to form the look of an arbor or the entrance to a cathedral. As you approach the South Memorial pool, you will hear the sounds of the waterfall and the sounds of the city will drift away. Once you walk past the last row of trees, you are standing in what would have been 2 WTC or the South Tower. The last row of trees before the pool is where the outside walls of the South Tower used to stand. The trees mark the acre in size. The black granite in front of you contains the names of the 595 people killed in the South Tower, the passengers and crew of the flight that crashed into the south tower, the passengers and crew killed on the plane and in the Pentagon, the passengers and crew of United 93 and all first responders – 343 FDNY, 23 NYPD, 37 PAPD as well as a court officer, FBI agent and WTC security people. There names are etched out because they are gone. Below the granite panel there is a shelf of water that will become the waterfall then pond and then become a waterfall again disappearing into a void that you taken see the bottom of. You can touch the water. You can rub water over a name. And whether it is very hot out or very cold out you can always touch the names because the panel is cooled in the summer and heated in the winter. The north pool is similar in design but has different names etched into it. The names of 1360 people who were killed in the 1 WTC or the North Tower, the passengers and crew of the plane that crashed into the North Tower and the people who were killed in the Feb 1993 bombing.

There is all kinds of interesting facts and stories I could tell you about “meaningful adjacencies”, the rebuilding, the survivor tree, the surrounding neighborhood, the new Museum and St Paul’s Chapel and an urban legion but then you won’t need to take a tour. ūüôā You can go to the Memorial by yourself but trust me you will get so much more out of the experience if you do a Tribute Center walking tour.


Travel Tuesdays – S1E8 – Oklahoma

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I was born in Oxford, England but from age 2 – 5 years I lived in Norman, OK. My dad had met my mom while he was stationed in England during the Korean War. They would marry. I would be born and then we would move to Norman, Oklahoma so my dad could finish his education at the University of Oklahoma. My brother and sister were born in Norman, Oklahoma. My grandparents lived there until their deaths. Whenever I spell Oklahoma, the song “O-K-L-A-H-O-M-A, Oklahoma” runs through my mind. My earliest childhood memory is being lowered into a tornado shelter. I remember being held in my dad’s arms and being passed to someone else standing lower down. I can almost feel their hands around my rib cage. I remember people sitting on benches around the edge of the “room.” Some years later when I described that memory to my folks, they confirmed that what I was remembering was being passed into a tornado shelter.

My heart aches for the people of Oklahoma who were affected by the recent tornados. My prayers have been for their safety and their recovery. My friend and pastor shared a prayer on his Facebook page from a Jewish believer. It is a beautiful prayer that rings so true with my heart that I wanted to share it with you.

“A Prayer for Oklahoma…May 20, 2013
By Abby Jacobson, Emanuel Synagogue, Oklahoma City, OK

Lord our God, we stood before You just a week ago to receive the Ten Statements of Your Torah. We stood, as though with our ancestors, and listened to the Torah reader chant descriptions of the smoking mountain, the thunderous rumbling, and the long-awaited voice of God.

This afternoon, the people of central Oklahoma did not stand to hear the voice of God. We sat, we paced, and we huddled. We listened to the voice of the meteorologists and watched as dark clouds swirled together over a cone of destruction. The rain fell upward, not down, and the thunderous roar of the swirling winds carried, and we saw the awesome power of God. This was not Shavuot‚ÄĒthe Feast of Weeks that marked our days of freedom. This was minutes that seemed like years and trapped us into watching the same images of destruction.

Merciful God, a great and powerful windstorm has passed, and it has torn apart the buildings and shattered the rocks before You. You told Elijah, the prophet, that You were not in the windstorm. Please, then, be in the still, small voices of the children crying out to be found. Be in the voices of the rescuers calling out for survivors. Be in the cries of those who are lost and of those who have lost.

May it be Your will that those who are missing be found alive and be cared for well, and may the people of central Oklahoma find strength in You and in one another as we rebuild what we can.”

“Happy” Mother’s Day


This past week the “ads” for Mother’s Day have been relentless. Every time I heard or saw an ad for teddy bears, flowers and jewelry, I thought of the women who this Mother’s Day will be hard. I thought of my cousins who are experiencing the first Mother’s Day without their mom. I thought of my friends who have lost their mothers this past year. I thought of the mommies of the children killed in Newtown and Boston. I thought of the moms of those who have died while serving our country. I thought of the young women trying to have children and it isn’t “happening.” I thought of the moms of children with serious illnesses. I thought of the children with moms with serious illnesses. And then I said a prayer. A prayer that they would find peace. A prayer that they could remember the hugs and love without too much pain. A prayer that they would know that there is a Heavenly Father that loves them, their children and their moms.

Yesterday I had a lovely day out with friends. We are women who became friends because of our September 11 connection. One of my friends lost her only child on September 11. Another lost her youngest son on September 11. Still another lost her mom very recently. I was struck by it isn’t as simple as “making it through the first Mother’s Day since…” Mother’s Day will always be hard. So I pray that the good memories will outweigh the bad. That the loss will not overwhelm them. That there is someone around them to give a hug, a smile or an ear to listen. I pray that I can be that person to those I know.

I am blessed and stressed that both my mum and mother-in-law are still alive. It is a challenge walking through these days but I wouldn’t trade it. Happy Mother’s Day to Mum Clark and Mom Van Hine. I love you ūüôā

Since I have aways worked with children, my daughters were accustom to “sharing me” whether it was at the studio, church or summer camp. There were times it was difficult for them to wait for me to be just their mom. They would even say “Miss Ann” when I didn’t respond to “MOM”. I would tell my girls that there are many children who call me “Miss Ann” but there are only two children in the whole world who call me “Mom”. I am very blessed.

Travel Tuesdays (S1E3) – Boston

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Tourist Tuesdays is now Travel Tuesdays and today is dedicated to Boston. As a new day dawns may I continue to pray for the runners, spectators, first responders, medical personnel, chaplains, visitors and residents who have been forever changed by the bombings at the Boston Marathon. Will you join me? Some physical injuries will take a long time to heal, some emotional injuries will take a long time to process and heal may I not grow weary in praying, listening for opportunities to help and caring for my neighbors near or far. Will you join me in praying, listening and caring in the days, and weeks ahead?

For 2.5 years, my daughter attended college just outside of Boston. I became very familiar with the 4.5 hour journey from NY to almost Boston. I even drove there and back in the same day. Not recommended but it can be done. The first city I ever flew to “myself” was Boston. I was attending a dance convention and flew from NY to Boston. At the time, it was a big deal. As a child, my family visited Boston to do the “tourist stuff”. My dad made us including my British mother walk the Freedom Trail. My dad read every, single plaque or so it seemed to me. My mother’s favorite story to tell about that trip is me saying “I guess all those tea bags were ruined when they threw them in the river.”

I have visited Boston as adult and I have found it to be an easy city to navigate especially when your college age daughter is your tour guide. The “T” is a convenient mode of travel. I would suggest the Freedom Trail for your dose of history, Faneuil Hall Market Place for shopping/eating and the Aquarium for kids. The swan boats are fun to see and a great opportunity to read Make Way For Ducklings. I love just wondering the streets and realizing how old so much of the city is. I am grateful for the people who shaped our nation on those streets.

I pray that the events of yesterday will not cause us to be so fearful that we miss all Boston has to share with us. For now, may we continue to share our prayers and thoughts with Boston’s people.

Thy Kingdom Come

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Today the local church (WVCN)¬†I call home “visited” another church. We had our service with Union A.M.E. Church. It was a wonderful time of worship. I truly believe¬†God¬†glanced down and said “Hey! everybody¬†gather around¬†and look at Warwick, NY, the kids are praising me as I¬†always intended.”¬† Thank you Pastor Bruce and Pastor Kevin for an amazing morning. May it be the beginning of kingdom life in Warwick.

Our Father who art in heaven;
Hallowed be Thy Name;
Thy kingdom come;
Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven;
Give us this day our daily bread;
And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us;
And lead us not into temptation;
But deliver us from evil;
For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.


Five years ago…


Today marks the fifth anniversary of my first chemo treatment. I am cancer free and I am 5 years since diagnosis. Thank you, Lord!!¬†¬† I thought the most difficult conversation I would ever have with my daughters was on Sept 19, 2001 when I asked them “where do you think Daddy is right now?” Actually the most difficult conversation I would have with them would be right before Christmas 2007.¬†when I had ¬†to tell my daughters that I had breast cancer. I had decided not to tell my daughters or most of my friends anything about the lump in my breast until I had a diagnosis. I knew that everyone would worry and it was Christmas and maybe this lump was nothing. The cancer journey would start in November of 2007. Very few people were privy to the situation. It was my way of believing it would be okay.

On December 13, my good friend, JK¬†would drive me to Middletown for the needle biopsy. I remember¬† having to keep my left arm up over my head and the nurse holding my left hand through the whole procedure.¬† I was so thankful for her compassion. JK¬†and I¬†would come out to a snow storm and lots of voice messages on my cell phone. Which seemed strange as the person who left them knew I was having the needle biopsy. My partner in crime and best¬†friend, CM¬†would leave messages apologizing for calling but she needed to speak with me. As I was having the needle biopsy a car had driven into our dancing studio. Thankfully there were no classes going on. An elderly woman was going to get her hair done at the hair salon next to our dancing school and had “jumped the curb and crashed¬†into the studio.”¬† She took out the front window and door. She would be uninjured and since she was already there she had her hair done.¬†Seriously, you can’t make this stuff up. Thankfully the snow caused classes to be canceled and after the initial shock, dealing with the accident became a good distraction.

On December 17, I would be in the Dollar Store ( strange the things you remember) and my cell phone would ring. It would be my doctor’s office¬†calling to say that he had the results and did I want to come in that day to hear them. The original plan¬†had been for my sister¬†to go with me later in the week for the results but they had the results¬†now so I went right then. My sister and the two friends who knew would be annoyed that I went alone but I have found that there are some things that you have to do alone.¬† As I drove home, I stopped to buy gas at the Sunoco¬†Station in Chester, NY¬† and I called to tell my best friend that I had breast cancer. Well, actually I didn’t tell her because I couldn’t say those words to her. Thankfully her husband answered the phone and I told him and asked him to tell her. I said it quickly and hung up and she called back immediately. Every time I pass that gas station I think of that conversation and how blessed I am to have such good friends.

The conversation with my daughters was spoken around¬†our kitchen table a few days later.¬†¬†My younger daughter and her boyfriend¬†had gone to the airport to pick up my older daughter and her husband. While they were gone, I thought, pondered and prayed about how to tell them. There was no great line to ease into it, no perfect scripture verse to quote. My daughters will tell you that I am worst person when it comes to telling bad news – I just say it. I remember sitting at the table and saying something about I had some bad news. My older daughter reached over and grabbed her husband’s hand. I didn’t make eye contact with anyone. I don’t know what I said. I know my younger daughter jumped up and said “no”. And I took her in my arms and said “this is not September¬†11. I am right here. I am not going anywhere. This is not a death sentence. I am right here.” I explained a little of what the treatment would be. I informed them “that¬†E was going back to WA with her husband. And M was going to Ghana for J term.” After more questions and discussion, M said “Mom, I am sorry but I can’t shave my head to make you feel better.” Laughter, the best medicine.

I would read and learn about breast cancer so I could become the CEO of my treatment. Scott Hamilton has a great site about chemo drugs and their side effects. JK’s brother-in-law, who had lost his wife to breast cancer, would spend over an hour¬†explaining so much to me about treatment and things to ask.¬†¬†I had wonderful doctors and nurses but I can tell you that medicine is an art not a science. I had people praying for me, people doing my grocery shopping, people cleaning my house,¬†people sending me cards. One friend send me a card, article¬†or¬†cartoon every day for the 40 days of Lent. ¬†I was fortunate that I was home alone because the only person I had to worry about was me. I may have been in my house alone but I had friends who had a schedule of calling me – breakfast, lunch and dinner. Someone always went with me for the chemo treatments – 8 treatments over 16 weeks. I had a little calendar which I wrote how I felt – good, bad, really bad. there was only one day that said really bad.¬†My chemo treatments were on Fridays. I would have a treatment then be at home until the following Thursday when JK would drive me to the studio to “teach”. We would go out for dinner. I would have a turkey club not sure why but turkey was the food of choice. The following week I would usually feel well enough to drive myself to teach on Tuesday and Thursdays. CM picked up¬†the slack on my off Tuesdays and one of my alumni, KH, who just happened to be available was my substitute and legs for the other classes.

I can tell you that it is easier to pray “your will be done” when you are praying for someone else. But I can also tell you that God is faithful.¬†Life is meant to be lived one day at a time and sometimes life is meant to be lived 10 minutes at a time because that is all you can do and God is okay with being there for this 10 minutes and then the next 10 minutes.

Five years ago I had 8 rounds of chemo over 16 weeks, one year of herciptin, a lumpectomy¬†that wasn’t a lumpectomy¬†because the lump was gone, 32 rounds of radiation which is a whole different¬†beast that chemo.¬† And because God doesn’t waste anything I have been able to shed a little light¬†into other people’s¬†cancer journey.¬†And it isn’t fun but it is doable. Five years ago,¬†I lost my hair which was okay because I never liked my hair and for a while¬†I got good hair. And to be honest it is just as well you have no hair because really you don’t have the energy to take care of it. Maybe your body¬†or someone knows that and that is why you lose it. ūüôā


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When I first heard about “Sandy” I thought of Olivia Newton-John¬†and John Travolta in Grease. ¬†What a fun movie with good cheesy music!! Of course, John Travolta probably cringes when he remembers it. I actually saw the musical¬†Grease off-Broadway many years ago.¬†What I remember most about it was the great music and Ed Sullivan was in the audience. My friend and I asked for his autograph. He graciously signed our playbills. ¬†I wonder if I still have that somewhere – it may be worth something ūüôā

But after this past week when I think of “Sandy” I will think of the devastation¬†of the Jersey shore, Staten Island, NYC and Long Island. I am almost relieved that I haven’t had electricity for the last week so I haven’t had constant access to the¬†images of the destruction. The tiny images I have seen on my smart phone have been enough to give me pause and improve my prayer life.¬†Friday as I drove home from my mother-in-law’s in South Jersey I was brought to tears by the sight of the Coast Guard vehicles¬†from Miami delivering generators to the Belmar area. The sight of firetrucks and¬†utility trucks¬†from other states¬†heading north was so encouraging¬†that I wept again.

I guess what I want to say is many are suffering through the aftermath of Sandy and we should reach out to them. But¬†there are other people who weren’t effected by¬† Hurricane Sandy¬†but have their own unprecedented¬†events happening. May we not forget that¬†each and every day there are¬†people who have just received a diagnose¬†of a terrible¬†disease, or suffered the death of a family member or the loss¬†a child or lost their¬†home in a fire. As we reach out to those effected by Sandy let’s also decide to be more aware of the needs that are always around us. Let’s not wait for “unprecedented” to be a neighbor and¬†a friend.