It wasn’t jealously. But something was displeasing Rita… No doubt, partly, because I had suddenly – almost rudely — ceased being solicitous on a Sunday afternoon she had been absorbing my attention. At least for the two-hours from the moment we walked into the door and sat in the restaurant on a grand wharf nudging out into the Hudson River from Jersey City.
For there thru the bistro’s mammoth glass wall was something more alluring… more riveting, more beholding than even the first gasp of desire in seeing sultry Rita undressed.
Just across the river it was. No doubt like my initial humbling view of the Grand Canyon — overawed to silence by something that wasn’t just a hole in Arizona. Or perhaps because today was Easter… a time when you might get to believing in the impossible. Then again, everything is theoretically impossible, until it is done.
For there stood, out of the ashes of 911, the Freedom Tower… goldenly reflecting the late afternoon sun… New York’s new beacon of resolve towering over the rest of Lower Manhattan’s crowd of towering skyscrapers.
What a perspective you get framed just across the river. It wasn’t as if the Red Sea was parting. It was as if you spent your life just skimming just above sea level and suddenly looked up.
To say the least, I was climaxing. And Rita, for the first time in the nearly 9 weeks we had been embracing, wasn’t involved.
It is moments such as these that make you appreciate that ‘we’ are an impossibility in an impossible universe. And in order to attain the impossible one must often attempt the absurd.
But of course… And as you know, I don’t gush. So pay attention… I will try not to be impossible. And no more than a tad absurd.
For my mind was ignited by a combustion of smoke and screams. I was reliving the day, some 14 years back. It was three months before 911, with my barely teenage children, for a week’s visit and celebration. And there we stood, on high in the 80th or 90th floor of one of the glass Trade towers. And planes were flying by, like we had so many times in my little 4-seater Piper Arrow Cherokee.
Over the Verrazano Bridge. Circling the Statue of Liberty. And waving our wings to the folks in the Trade towers still 400 feet above our allotted 1100 feet flying altitude.
And how easily it seemed, as I remarked at the time, for any flying airship to come crashing through at the very spot we stood.
And three months later it happened. The terrorists came. Nearly 3,000 died. And our world changed forever. Like it had after Pearl Harbor.
You can’t view the Freedom Tower at One World Trade Center without these haunting echoes. And I was thankful that Rita had brought me here. For, after piloting nearly 25 years, I simply gave up flying following 911. I lost the taste. The thrill was gone, with so many of our freedoms now overly restricted and prohibited like the airspace and territory I once glided through so easily.
On the one hand I could only marvel at what man can achieve. And our American resolve. On the other hand some of the ignoble and deleterious consequences lurked in the shadows of my mind.
At that moment I couldn’t avert my eyes even if Rita actually would have bared all her wondrously silky skin. There was so much more at work. Including Easter, the day of resurrection. Rebirth. A second chance to make right the wrongs. And without abandoning my master sergeant’s chevrons in cynicism, I have to joyously behold that sometimes we do get it right.
It got me to wondering if I was just getting old. As a bonfire of freedom we are a country of dignity, pageantry and absurdity. But then there is also my stronger resolve to faith. Without faith I’ve come to believe nothing is possible; with it nothing is impossible.
It’s curious, isn’t it? Faith. We are asked to believe in things that cannot be seen, or felt, like the sun on our face. We are asked to walk in Faith. In other words we are asked to believe in something… because it was impossible.
And so I believe… because it was impossible. Or so it seemed from the construction to the destruction to the resurrection peaking with the Freedom Tower arising before me at 1,776 feet.
I once, a tad sardonically, sniffed at the ridiculous and infinite faith of other people. And now I simply inhale its majesty.
Indeed, terrorist attacks can shake the foundations of our biggest buildings, but they cannot touch the foundation of America. And as that Japanese commander perceptively noted about us after Pearl Harbor: I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.
The Freedom Tower is not a memorial to the dead, it is yet another monument to our living will… another resurrection of freedom that cannot be perished from the earth.
And dats yDrewIS on dis penal colony…