“FOOTPRINTS” (Click Frank Sinatra-New York New York above while reading this article to get the feeling of being in NY.)
By Chet Yarbrough
(This blog entry was made based on a trip to New York, one and a half weeks before the arrival of Hurricane Sandy.)
NEW YORK ARRIVAL- HURRICANE SANDY OCTOBER, 2012:
SCENES OF NEW YORK BEFORE & DURING OCTOBER 2012 HURRICANE SANDY:
Triumph and tragedy are footprints in time that are reflected in two of New York’s more recent attractions.
New York’s latest memorial exhibits are monuments to America’s past and future; i.e. America’s “…giant leap for mankind” in the space shuttle exhibit at the “Intrepid” museum, and the Trade Center memorial at Liberty and Greenwood, near Battery Park.
These New York’ memorials exemplify great events in American history; each, in its own way, good and bad. There is the spectacular achievement of space travel and horrible disasters of “Columbia” and “Challenger”. There is the tragic slaughter of 3,000 innocents on 9/11; immortalized by a memorial to the lost; built on footprints of the twin tower’ foundations.
There is the symbolic triumph of new skyscrapers; i.e. “Freedom Tower” and neighboring buildings that tell the world, “Americans are free and not afraid!”.
Neil Alden Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, died on August 25, 2012.
He spent 8 days and 14 hours in space, on the Gemini and Apollo missions, becoming a timeless symbol of American triumph. The “Eagle”, the lunar lander’s name on the Apollo 11 mission, landed on the moon on July 20, 1969 and departed July 21, 1969. Ten different astronauts repeated the trip on 5 different missions between 1969 and 1972.
The idea of two men sitting in a 4.2’ x 4.2’ x 4.2’ cabin, at the top of a 364 foot high (the Statue of Liberty is 152 feet high) Saturn rocket, is overwhelming; particularly, when one actually sits in an Apollo mock-up of the capsule at the New York’ “Intrepid” exhibit.
On September 17, 1976, the first full-scale prototype of the Space Shuttle is completed. It is called the “Enterprise”; named after the “Star Trek” TV series. Though the “Enterprise” never leaves earth’s orbit, it is the earth-bound test vehicle for future shuttles.
Space Shuttles are meant to be reusable space delivery vehicles (trucks) for manned space stations. The shuttle bay could carry a 28,000 lb. cargo with two to eight people, six of which would be mission or payload specialists. Between April 12, 1981 and July 21, 2011, 135 missions were scheduled; 133 successfully completed their mission with loss of 1 at launch and another when returning to earth. “Challenger” failed at launch and “Columbia” failed at re-entry.
Greg Jarvis, Christa McAuliffe, Ronald McNair, Elison Onizuka, Judith Resnik, Michael Smith, and Dick Scobee died in the “Challenger” mission (January 28, 1986).
(After the “Columbia” tragedy on Feb 1, 2003, several modifications were made to the “Enterprise”’ design but it looks the same.)
When visiting the 9/11 memorial, new feelings express themselves; i.e. a feeling of reverence, sadness, a feeling of pride for brave men and women that came to help, and a feeling of human insignificance.
VIEWER DISCRETION ADVISED:
Seeing the name of a fire-fighters’ engine number on a granite monument surrounding the foot print of the twin towers makes some cry, and some look away. One that looks at surrounding buildings and massive twin tower’ footprints feels small and vulnerable. Seeing a battered fire battalion commander’s safety helmet reminds one of brave fire and police personnel that risk their lives to protect and rescue people.
The massive size of the two building footprints and the rushing water that drains into gaping maws at the center of each monument reminds one of how big and haphazard the world is and how an individual life is in danger of falling into nothingness.
TIME LAPSE VIDEO OF CONSTRUCTION @ THE 9/11 MEMORIAL:
At the same time one feels renewed; i.e. revivified by the “Freedom Tower” and a neighboring building rising above the skyline to let the world know, 3000 people did not die in vain. These new buildings send the message that 3000 deaths are not a harbinger of an end but footprints to a future.
New York will rebound from Hurricane Sandy with the same energy, pride, and permanence that it has had from its beginning as a settlement in 1624 to its inevitable revitalization after Hurricane Sandy in 2012. There are many more footprints in New York City’s future.