Monday, September 11, 2006

9/11 - Thoughts and Observations on the Fifth Anniversary

6 am

Today began with a beautiful sunrise, pinkish-orange, to the East; clean, clear blue skies to the West.

Dawn is reflected off the windows a thousand times over. The maids, housekeepers, and nannies fill the bus, even before the schoolchildren are on their way.

The streets facing East are enveloped in a golden blast of light; today it will be from the 70s at the beach to over 100 degrees inland.

A single yellow ribbon hangs from a porch. As I reach the church, the sun is already climbing over rooftops.

9 am

All morning, the anniversary is scarcely even alluded to. People rush about as usual. It is in so many ways reflective of that morning, before it happened.

The news ticker reports that Americans across the country will be observing the anniversary in somber ceremonies. My path this morning won't take me anywhere near the closest observance. Only headlines of newspapers trumpet an ongoing reminder of the day's significance.

The tourists, as usual, are on the streets before most shops have opened. They are all off to see the sights, either in defiance of, in denial of, or oblivious to any commemoration.

Not until the subway station is there a pronounced police presence, including police dogs and atypical police officers whose body language indicates they are quite serious.

This morning my thoughts went to Father Mychal Judge, Mark Bingham, and David Reed Gamboa Brandhorst.

Most people have forgotten that most of those aboard the doomed aircraft on 9/11 were from California, the original destination of the flights. Even tiny West Hollywood was represented among the victims or their families. Television programs abound of "the children of 9/11," yet seldom are viewers reminded that children were among those who perished.

At the downtown portal to the Metro, again there are police with dogs, and patrol cars following patrol cars.

At City Hall, flags are at half-mast. Security around the Civic Center is a given, if purposely not visible. No other indications that it is 9/11 are in sight.

I pass the Higashi Hongwashi Buddhist Temple and two of Little Tokyo's most prominent churches, the Japanese-American National Museum and the Japanese-American Cultural and Community Center, and there is nothing.

At First and Main I return to the Civic Center by City Hall South, by the sister-city sign post and the clock which for months was frozen at the exact moment of the 1994 Northridge earthquake.

A lone policeman on the city hall steps is smoking a cigarette, half-bored, in front of a NO SMOKING sign.

A policeman naps at the wheel of a patrol car in front of the Union Church, now the Union Center for the Arts, one of the mobilization points for the Japanese-American community who were relocated to internment camps during the Second World War. I expected more of an ominous quiet in Little Tokyo because of that; it was more of a languid, sleepy calm along East First Street as the temperatures rose.

The LAPD does love its helicopters, though. Two fly overhead in the course of a few minutes. They are obviously circling over the Civic Center.

2:30 pm

There are flowers adorning the boulder by the playground in West Hollywood Park that serves as a monument to David Reed Gamboa Brandhorst and his parents, Ronald Gamboa and Daniel Brandhorst. For all its simplicity, the boulder with a brass plaque is possibly the most fitting and eloquent monument to 9/11 that I have yet to see. The last words at the bottom of the plaque are familiar ones of David's at the playground, frequently pleading, "Just five more minutes, Daddy."

1 comment:

The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

Just five minutes more, Daddy

That line just choked me up. How heartbreaking to have a life cut so tragically short? David had two loving dads and a stable home. What a fine young man he would have turned out to be! "Just five minutes more..."

Thank you for linking my tribute post. And for your comment. Since I live in Los Angeles and make frequent trips through Little Tokyo, this was a nice read, as I could identify. I never get out to Hollywood though; but since the Memorial Plaque is there, I will definitely have to visit the Park.

I updated my post to link here. Thanks for your reflections on 9/11 when so many others seem to have moved on, and have "forgotten". I understand the need to get on with life, but not in the refusal to pay respects to the memory of those we lost that day.