Nine. Eleven. Red. White. Blue.

So this is the tippy top of our incredibly beautiful city hall. It's lit up red, white, and blue tonight in remembrance of 9/11. I had been to the waterfront this evening taking photos and was on my way home when this stopped me in my tracks. Like many Americans (and probably non-Americans alike) I've been thinking a lot about 9/11 today...and how it changed things. It was our loss of innocence in many ways. Everyone has their stories about where they were when they first heard about it. But my most personal story came the day after, when details of the people who perished began to be announced. One of the planes carried children. Half a classroom is what I remember them saying. I can't remember if they were on their way to Washington or New York (with parents, teachers, and chaperones) but at the time they were the same age as my son, who is now in his twenties. I was at home and when I heard this news I remember literally crumbling to the ground. I also remember yelling--cursing--at God. How could you let this happen?! I yelled. What kind of God are you? And then as days and weeks passed I heard of the heroic actions that not only professionals did but also everyday citizens. Some of them lost their own lives trying to save others. As this was the conversation of nearly everyone for so long, I also remember hearing a conversation in the steam room at the local JCC where I steam and swim. Two older gentlemen were talking about this terrible event and one finally blurted out--almost wailed--"Where is God, where is He during this?" After a really long pause--an uncomfortably long pause--the other person said, almost whispered, "God is in the response. God is in the response to all of this. We can either choose hatred or we can choose love. And I want to choose love," this man continued. "I want to help any way I can, even if it is simply sitting in a steam room and discussing this." I personally was not at this horrific event, nor did I lose someone close to me in it. But I mourn them. They were part of us and we part of them. We can either choose hatred or we can choose love. And today I choose love. Our country--if not the world--is broken. And we need to fix it. If we want to survive as a species, it's the only way. Seriously. We don't need to "like" everyone, but we do need to love them as fellow citizens on this rock we call earth. It really is the only way. Love. And this is what I was thinking about as I waited for the long-exposure shutter to click tonight as I stood in traffic on a chilly late summer's evening.


Rob said…
I happened upon an article about you and your photography in this months Buffalo Spree and I have to say I can hardly rap my mind around your sublime photographs and very inspirational thoughts. I’ve literally spent the last four hours engrossed in Urbansimplicity. Your photos of City Hall, the grain elevators, The Richardson Center, and Forest Lawn Cemetery are among the best I’ve ever seen. Please understand I am not one for flattery, I am a photography nut and have hundreds of books on the subject, especially on industrial architecture and ANY photos I can find of Buffalo’s architecture. Like you I am a zealous Buffalo lover and dye hard supporter of my city. As I read your blog entries I noticed that I felt at ease and inspired. In my youth I was a passionate bike rider and would ride around Buffalo for hours on end looking at Buffalo’s unparalleled architecture and stare in awe at buildings such as City Hall, the Guaranty Building, and the grain silos. Also like you I found it extremely therapeutic and relaxing. Unfortunately I lost my left leg in an accident and consequently have been unable to ride for many years, but reading your blog flooded me with very happy memories. I’m dying to see your photographs in person and hopefully get to talk top you. I hope this message doesn’t sound pompous or high handed this is the first time I’ve ever blogged, if that’s what I’m doing. In closing I’d like to say that purple is also my favorite color and I too was born in November. Thanks, hope to hear from you, Rob.
Joe George said…
Thank you so incredibly much. I am truly moved and humbled by your comments. Yes, I love Buffalo...and photography and writing. I have spent much of my adult life working as a chef (so many crazy long hours) and a few years ago self-downgraded to a cook again which frees me up a bit. What began as a hobby some years ago has really been a focal point of my life these days. Thank you again. I do take part in local shows sporadically but with the virus it may be a bit. When things come to pass and we are able to go out again I'll post about upcoming shows and we will have a chance to chat in person. If you are on social media you can find me at Urban Simplicity on Facebook and @PazBici on Instagram. Peace.