September 12, 2016
I’ll start with a warning, this entry is one of my few ventures away from verse and a repost of something I put up on Facebook a while back. Its straight from the heart because every once in a while you get the opportunity to be a part of something special. I’ve been lucky enough to have a couple such opportunities. One in particular is worth mentioning on this day.
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So, the year after, I got a call from one of my best friends on the planet, Johnny Lindo; saying he’d like me to come help with a project he was working on. Being one of my long time best dudes, Lindo has the privilege of hitting me whenever for whatever. I met him down at the Union Square subway station as requested and linked up with several other kids, some members from CMU’s coolest graduates and others just the coolest.
Age range: somewhat varied, ethnicity: very varied, religion, orientation, you get the idea…it didn’t matter.
We were all there to support our homeboy and his project.
My dude proceeded to give us instructions along with several sheets of translucent stickers, each containing one single name. He explained that he’d been walking down this hallway a few weeks earlier and had noticed all of these staggered white subway tiles. He’d counted the rows and columns and determined that if you placed one 9/11 victim’s name on one tile, you could span across one designated stretch of the hallway.
We all have our stories from that day and we all (especially New Yorkers) most likely have that two or three degrees of separation from (slash connection to) someone who passed away on this day in 2001. But its when you see all the names written at once or take the time to listen to a roll call of all the names that you get hit with the full magnitude of the event itself.
The assembled team went to work, as John meticulously made sure everyone was putting the stickers in the middle of the tiles and not screwing up the alphabetical order and we were there for hours. All of us were straight sweating through our clothes a half hour in but the thing is, no one complained. A bunch of friends, new and old; just went about their business trying our best to get it as our homie had envisioned.
Several times through the evening, people stopped by to see what we were doing. We’d explain the project and they’d nod and walk off. Some would stop and hang for a couple minutes and then move on. A couple times, officers would come out of the Union Square police station and approach us – I think one even asked if we had permission or something like that. We didn’t but it didn’t matter. They’d see the list of names going up, give that somber NYPD officer nod and move on.
Oddly enough, that’s one of the coolest things I remember about that evening. The cops got it. They got us and they let us do our thing even though it may not have been 100% by the book or sanctioned by the City or to the letter of the law.
At any rate, we all stood back once the last name was placed and took it all in. For me (and for all of us I suppose) it was almost the same feeling as I got when I went to visit the 9/11 Memorial (could only do that once to date – hard to describe the magnitude of emotion and the scope of damage so I’ll just say Damn!). Then I took some pictures, jumped in a couple group hugs with my friends, new and old; gave my homie Johnny Lindo a pound & profound thanks and hopped on the train back to Brooklyn…
My Dude’s project still stands.
The stickers are a little faded now and have peeling edges but Our project still stands. And now, if you walk down that Union Square hallway, you’ll notice something beyond just stickers with names. Thirteen years later, you can see other tributes added like dried flowers taped to the wall and hand drawn crosses and last messages left to the lost loved ones.
Thirteen years of character.
So on this 9/11 anniversary, I’ll send a shout out to my boy Johnny Lindo (and BTW I think only myself and members of Little Egypt can call him that). I’m proud to be one of the ones chosen to be a part of what I truly consider one of the most meaningful things I’ve ever done.
Salute, my Dude.