In the spring of 1998, I was involved with a group dedicated to maintaining the history and memory of the members of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade who were from the Chicago area. There had long been groups on the East and West coasts, and once a year they had meetings either in New York or San Francisco. Our group was asked to send representatives to the annual meeting, which was in New York that year.
I was not originally going to go, but Cynthia, the woman I was dating at the time, who later became my second wife, bought me a ticket for my birthday.
I made plans to stay with a friend of a friend in Washington Heights for a night. Cynthia drove me at five in the morning to Midway Airport. I got off the plane at Laguardia and hurried to the shuttle that took me to the subway train. I had only about ten minutes to spare to get from the subway station to the City Colleges auditorium in Tribeca that the gathering was at.
With the help of some friendly New Yorkers, I managed to get on and off of the right train and get to the auditorium. As I walked out of the subway station and headed toward the auditorium, I looked up and realized that I was in the shadow of the World Trade Center. I had no conception of Manhattan geography, and had had no idea I'd be near them.
I was shocked how big they were. I've spent lots of time in and near the Sears Tower, the Hancock Building and the Amoco Building here in Chicago, so I was used to being around big buidings, but somehow the World Trade Center seemed very, very big. I remembered thinking at the time that the building, which I'd always considered bland, was more handsome than it looked in the pictures.
I'd brought my camera, and stopped to snap a picture. Ironically, that was the last picture in the roll and I hadn't brought a spare roll. It was the only picture I took on the trip.
A few months after the World Trade Center was destroyed on September 11, 2001, seven years ago today, I came across this picture. I'd completely forgotten about it. It occurred to me how sad it was that this was the first and last time I ever saw the World Trade Center.
Seven years later, our political and economic system have been radically altered because of the destruction of the towers and the disasterous aftermath-- the invasion of Iraq, the assaults on our political rights, etc. And Osama bin Laden the guy behind it all, the guy who organized the murder of over 3,000 people, is still at large. Nearly eight years of incompetent Republican "leadership" have failed miserably. I hope everybody remembers that when they go into voting booth in November.