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9/11. The Lights.

Ten years ago during the horrible tragedy, no one was thinking what would be or could ever be built again.  Today, 10 years later we are surrounded by the TV, print and online messages of reminder and reflection.  Indeed, we should remember.  But today, I was reminded of something more – something we all need in our ability to move on.  That is forgiveness.  I uplink this post at dusk, this September 11, 2011 in observance of the lights that will turn on any minute now in New York City.

The bright searchlights that beam upward from the site is (for me at least) our message to the world – that we are still here, we will come back with a vengeance.  It is a message to our lost loves – we connect with you still.  It is also a message, that there is hope. There is a future.  There is a future ability in our hearts and souls to love and trust again.  Somewhere in this journey to find hope again, there must be forgiveness.  Indeed it must.  For, by not forgiving, we stay in that moment.  We would be stuck.  By not forgiving we will live with some amount of hate, somewhere, that will cause that part of us to decay. 

The lights, known as “The Tribute of Light” is the personification of all these thoughts.  As much as I love light, and all things light, these beams of light contain the most meaning from any light. Among the many wonderful things I have seen in my life, they remain one of the most moving.

This video created by F9 Photo in 2010 shows the lights, and also shows the magical effect created by the birds.  The birds love to fly in and out of the lights.  It is hypnotic and perhaps symbolic;  Live and play in the message and truth of the lights.  Notice the reflections and the effect of the bird’s swirling flight multiplied in the windows of nearby office towers.

newly constructed World Trade Center towers at dusk, before Battery Park City. · World Trade Center · New York, New York

newly constructed World Trade Center towers at dusk, before Battery Park City. · World Trade Center · New York, New York

True to our heritage,  our nation moves on, and again, the most poignant, dramatic and moving thing I have witnessed in a very long time, were, and are the huge searchlights beaming straight up into the sky from ground zero. The “Tribute in Light” art installation of 88 searchlights, is produced each year on the anniversary.  2011 has been announced as possibly the last year of this memorial being presented. The creative design team consists of architects John Bennett and Gustavo Bonevardi of PROUN Space Studio, artists Julian LaVerdiere and Paul Myoda, architect Richard Nash Gould, and lighting designer Paul Marantz.

At our Episcopal church today, Father Anthony Parker shared one of the most compelling sermons I have ever heard.  In reading below, if you find it better for you, his message can be less of a religious message,  to those who are not as aligned with a church, a religion, God or “A God” for that matter.

It doesn’t matter.  Forgiveness is as much about an interpersonal and self surviving act than anything else.  As Father Parker stated; “For NOT to forgive, is to still be there, to still worship at THAT altar.”  Who still wants to live there?  Remember, yes.  Live at that place? No.


Before and After 9/11

Before and After 9/11

 from book of Matthew 18.21 -35.    

Then Peter came to Him and asked, “Lord how often am I to forgive my brother if he goes on wronging me? As many as seven times?”  Jesus replied, “I do not say seven times but seventy times times seven.”  The Kingdom of Heaven, therefore, should be thought of in this way: There was once a king who decided to settle accounts with the men who served him.  At the outset, there appeared before him a man who owed ten thousand talents.  Since he had no means of paying, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife, his children and everything he had, to meet the debt.  The man fell at his master’s feet. “Be patient with  me,” he implored, “and I will pay you in full” ; and the master was so moved with pity that he let the man go and cancelled the debt.  But no sooner had the man gone out than he met a fellow-servant who owed him a hundred denarii; he took hold of him, seizing him by the throat, and said,  “Pay me what you owe.”  The man fell at his fellow-servant’s feet, and begged him, “Be patient with me, and I will pay you” ; but he refused, and had him thrown into jail until he should pay the debt.  The other servants were deeply distressed when they saw what had happened, and they went to their master and told him the whole story.  The he sent for the man and said, “You scoundrel!  I cancelled the whole of your debt when you appealed to me; ought you not to have showed mercy to your fellow-servant just as I showed mercy to you?”  And so angry was the master that he condemned the man to be tortured until he should pay the debt in full.  That is how my heavenly Father will deal with you, unless you forgive your brother from your hearts.”

“Tribute in Light” is one of the most powerful and healing works of public art ever produced.  The majestic blue beams are presented annually by MAS, shining from dusk on September 11, through dawn the next day.  Visible within a sixty-mile radius on a clear night, Tribute has become a world-renowned icon of remembrance, honouring those who were lost, as well as those who worked so hard to get our city and nation through that terrible trial.


The Tribute in Light is composed of 88 1-degree beams of 7000 watt xenon searchlights focused into the sky near the site of the World Trade Center in remembrance of the September 11 attacks.  The illuminated memorial reaches 4 miles into the sky and is the strongest shaft of light ever projected from earth into the night sky.  

Lighting Designer Frank Hollenkamp uses his iPad to shoot video of the Tribute in Lights ahead of the tenth anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks on September 7, 2011 in New York City.

Lighting Designer Frank Hollenkamp uses his iPad to shoot video of the Tribute in Lights ahead of the tenth anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks on September 7, 2011 in New York City.

Around the world, people assume that the Tribute in Light is a permanent annual installation. But the reality is that the future of the lights is not guaranteed beyond September 11, 2011. Please support the Municipal Art Society’s efforts to keep the lights shining by making a generous donation online;  

or by calling (212) 935-3960.

Alternatively, anyone with a cell phone can text the word “TRIBUTE” to the number 20222 to make a one-time donation of $10 towards the future ofTribute in Light.

Perhaps forgiveness will open the door to healing.  My life experience shows this to happen.  Perhaps forgiveness can keep that part of us from going dead. Perhaps, like the book of Matthew above, our act of forgiveness, will spur another act of forgiveness. 

Forgiveness is perhaps one of the most self-less  and  self-protecting things we will ever do. It is perhaps one of the most powerful things we can do.  For ourselves as well as for the person forgiven.  Truly, whomever your divine being may be, Forgiveness might be one of the greatest acts of Love done in the name of Him or Her.

Below; The open fountains of cascading water that are located on each of the original building’s footprints.   I see the massive open cavities, as this flowing and liquid moment – as a place to throw all of the hurt, pain and sorrow into.  This is a perfect place to allow the release of those feelings, to allow the possibility of forgiveness to begin. It is my hope that we all have an early opportunity to be at these fountains soon.