I just got back after putting up our Fifty Flags Over America on the cemetery fence at St. Paul's Church within a few feet of Ground Zero.
This is one day later than the goal but there were logistical issues in bringing a tube to a spot where President Bush was speaking.
I scrawled on it "We did what we could to honor you -- Highpointers Club 9/11/02"
There are countless memorials there and I believe this is a noble spot for our poster as one among many. Authorities say they will save and catalog every item put up there.
I watched the reaction for 15 or 20 minutes. During that time at least 50 or 60 people seemingly of all nationalities, age and race stopped and pointed. I took 74 pictures. I chatted with a few people who all thought it was inspiring.
I want to thank the initial team of Dave Covill, John Mitchler and Jean Trousdale who did untold hours of work on this and Mary Maurer, Gene Elliott and Diane Winger who have pitched in to get it distributed. And of course all the Highpointers who competed to have their flags included.
9/11 has brought out the best and worst in people and this represents the best.
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
P.S. If you are visiting NYC, the poster is on the south fence about mid-block.
Our poster on the fence at St. Pauls is sandwiched in between a large display of the victims names in which people sign condolences and a flag from a couple guys who rode their bicycle to Ground Zero from Michigan.
Dave C. said he got a phone call two days from a co-worker who worked on the project and he noted that it is one of the most professional looking momentos. The poster is water damaged at the corners where I punched holes to secure it to the fence. When I returned after the Convention the remnants of two interim hurricanes had ripped it off on three sides. I punched new holes and resecured it. In 20/20, I wish I had reinforced the four corners.
I have felt good that our poster is "one of many" rememberances. I had debated putting it on the Ground Zero fence itself which have made for a nice photo op but as is noted in the accompanying article, they are pulled down each day.
But the area can assume tacky aspects. Mixed in with the memorials are plenty of street vendors selling pictures, posters, CD's and perhaps the most tacky item -- a clear model of the WTC that flashes with pink or purple lights. The vendors were at the WTC almost from Day 1 (initially selling flags and ribbons), but their items have definitely gotten tackier.
The photograph in the article is about 20 or 30 feet to the right of where our poster is (it's on the south side of the church)
Here's excerpts from the article that appeared on Oct. 11 on page 1 of the Metro section of the NY Times:
How to Say 'Enough,' Gracefully
By MICHAEL WILSON
ne of the longest lasting, most-visited grass-roots memorials to the Sept. 11 attacks, at the fence surrounding St. Paul's Chapel near ground zero, still grows daily. Visitors stop to drape a signed T-shirt across the bars, place a ball cap atop an iron spike, leave their mark on what has become the world's guest book. New York City, We're thinking of you. Love, Everyplace Else.
But growing among all the shirts and stuffed animals and plastic banners, from nearby apartments and in a neighborhood letter-writing campaign, is a quiet new sentiment about the fence: It looks awful. It scares my kids. Take it down. "What had been a tapestry of love and support now has become an eyesore for our community," wrote a nearby resident to the vicar of Trinity Church, which includes the chapel. "In fact, it is an impediment to our continued recovery."
The fence, at a certain angle, could be mistaken for a camp for derelicts.
The fence today is actually doing harm, Mr. Jacobson argues, as is the giant poster showing the chapel's steeple in a shroud of dust as the towers fell. "It's like seeing a photograph of someone you love getting hurt in a horrible accident," he said. That feeling led him to write the letter to Trinity Church requesting it remove the memorial, and several residents of his building have either signed it or written their own.
Church leaders quietly agree, but fear stepping in too soon. "I would love for the fence to be cleared, at least enough for the yard to be seen," Father Howard said. "It's beautiful. We have something of a pastoral responsibility to those who are still grieving."
The greatest defenders of the fence are people seeing it for the first time. Here, good will flickers with irony. What New Yorkers think about these thousands of scribblings wishing New York well seems to be of little interest. Asking many visitors whether the fence memorial should be removed startles them, as if they had been asked whether Monument Valley should be blown up.
"It's something they wanted to be part of," Mr. Ashman said of the people outside on those days and nights. "Before you knew it, they started writing all these notes on the canvases. Lots of emotions are written on this fence. People's expression of trying to identify with the grief. For something like that to be taken away, I'm not so sure it's the wise thing. It's wrong to remove it."
Next week, Father Howard plans to survey the approximately 8,000 visitors who will pass through the chapel. "We don't feel like we could move unilaterally on this," he said.
"I'd say to leave it there," the mother said. "People feel better putting things on, don't they?"