December 20, 2007
Dear Families and Friends,
Last week I was honored to join the National September 11 Memorial Museum tour at Legends Field in Tampa, Florida. The traveling exhibition was the final stop in a 25-city itinerary, paying tribute to the victims and heroes of September 11th. Joe Daniels, the President of the NS11MM Foundation, Lee Ielpi, retired NYC firefighter and father of firefighter Jonathan Ielpi, and Anthony Whitaker, deputy police chief for the Port Authority, gave very moving speeches about their experiences on 9/11. On a personal note, it was an emotional experience talking about the loss of my son Brad, while at the same time conveying the wonderful support our families felt from around the world.
The solemn and meaningful ceremony was attended by hundreds of individuals including 9/11 family members, rescue workers and survivors, local schools, government officials and law enforcement. Following the formal ceremonies, family members and those in attendance were invited to sign a 37 foot long, 4 ton steel beam that will be used in the construction of the Memorial Museum at the World Trade Center site. For many of those attending, the tour event was the first opportunity to meet with others in the 9/11 community, which only emphasizes the importance of the tour’s outreach.
I would like to congratulate the entire National September 11 Memorial Museum team for their dedication in taking this tour across the country. Their efforts to reach out nationally, provides an opportunity for communities to come together and to reflect on both the loss we suffered and the courage and compassion that so many of us witnessed firsthand. It was wonderful to be part of this impressive event and we look forward to supporting their efforts in the coming year.
All of us at VOICES wish you and your family a happy and healthy holiday season! Our offices will be closed from Monday, December 24th through Wednesday, December 26th.
Mary and the VOICES staff
VOICES programs and events
Creating New Holiday Traditions
Last week’s e-newsletter addressed the topic of how to cope with loss during the holiday season. Some family members have found that creating new holiday traditions, especially those that commemorate the lives of your loved ones, can help make a more meaningful holiday. Last week we asked the question: “How do you honor your loved ones during the holidays and what new traditions have you found helpful during the holiday season?” Here's a response we'd like to share with you from the parents of Bill Hunt:
“Every year we put out the whimsical Santa’s Village that Bill gave us when he was a young adult. His brother Dan and he had many a laugh over this due to its childlike nature. But displaying it in the family room in its special place brings joy to our hearts each Christmas. Bill, this special tradition and having your daughter Emma, our granddaughter for a few days after Christmas each year brings smiles to our faces and makes the holidays easier to bear, for you are all around us. Merry Christmas Bill.”
Here are some suggestions on how to create hew traditions that commemorate your loved ones throughout the holidays:
-Share favorite stories or memories about the person who has died
-Serve that person’s favorite food or holiday dish
-Offer a toast, or say a prayer at the start of a family meal
-Hang a special ornament
-Light a candle
-Hang a stocking for the loved one. Let people include notes of remembrance
-Look at photos or videos from past holidays
-Dedicate a bench or plaque
-Adopt a needy family or donate to a homeless or animal shelter for the holidays
-Donate the money that would have been spent on a gift to their favorite cause
-Write letters or a journal to the loved one to express your feelings
- Here are some links to articles about getting through the holidays:
And, as always, if you or a family member are experiencing a particularly difficult time this holiday season, please call VOICES at 866-505-3911 to speak with a mental health professional.
9/11 living memorial feature
Gardens of Remembrance at Battery Park Provide a Place for Those Seeking Renewed Optimism and Hope
As part of the 9/11 Living Memorial digital archive, VOICES of September 11th has gathered information on memorials built around the United States and the world. One of these is the Gardens of Remembrance at Battery Park in New York City, which pays tribute to those who perished on September 11, 2001, the survivors of that day, and all who will visit in the years to come seeking renewed optimism and hope. Mayor Bloomberg believes, "The Gardens provide a peaceful place in Lower Manhattan where New Yorkers and visitors can remember and reflect on those who lost their lives on September 11th.”
The Gardens occupy a 10,000 square foot elevated portion of Battery Park. Designed by renowned Dutch garden planner Piet Oudolf, the gardens were planted in May 2003. The perennials and flowers that comprise the gardens – 6,000 plants from 113 species – are placed in a 10,000-square foot green necklace of planting beds running contiguous with the waterfront and overlooking New York Harbor and the Statue of Liberty. The native grasses and flowering perennials move in rhythm with the sea breeze. A guidebook to take the user through the horticultural aspects of the gardens.
One of Manhattan's most dramatic public open spaces south of Central Park, Battery Park serves as a destination for over 4 million visitors and 14 million commuters each year. The Park boasts 23 acres of City parkland offering peerless vistas onto New York Harbor's 11,000 acres of waterway. Battery Park is a major urban transportation hub and home to more than two-dozen important monuments, inviting green spaces, paths for pedestrians and bicyclists, and unrivaled visual access to New York Harbor and the Statue of Liberty.
The 9/11 Living Memorial digital archive is dedicated to commemorating the lives and stories of September 11, 2001 and the February 26, 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
EVENTS AND INFORMATION FOR THE 9/11 COMMUNITY
Roemer Op-Ed on Intelligence Oversight
Intelligence scandals in Washington have become an all-too-frequent occurrence, according to former 9/11 Commission member Tim Roemer. In an Op-ed in The Washington Post, he says the current structure of congressional intelligence committees leaves them fundamentally ill-equipped to achieve real change, because they are deprived of several tools due to the necessity for secrecy. Read the full Op-Ed in in The Washington Post.
House Approves Terrorism Damage Bill
The House has approved an insurance program that commits the government to paying most of the damage in the event of a terrorist attack in the next seven years. The legislation has already been passed by the Senate.The Bill continues a program put in to place after the 9/11 attacks and renewed in 2005. It commits insurers to pay for the first $27.5 billion in damage, and then 15 per cent of the remaining costs up to $100 billion. President Bush is expected to sign the bill. Read more.
Ground Zero Health Program Hits a Setback in Washington
The future of a national program to provide medical treatment to ground zero workers outside the metropolitan area is in doubt after the federal government abruptly halted the search for a contractor to process medical reimbursements.The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention canceled a request late Thursday for proposals to establish a business processing center to help set up and administer a system of clinics around the country to treat workers who have become ill after spending time on the ground zero cleanup.
According to Bernadette Burden, a spokeswoman, the Centers for Disease Control said the request for proposals was pulled at the last minute because potential bidders seemed to be confused about program requirements. Ms. Burden said that the agency remained committed to the program, but that she did not know when a revised request could be issued. Read the full story here.
New York City Shifts Focus of Search for Remains
In a recent memorandum to Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Deputy Mayor Edward Skyler has reported that the expanded search for remains by the city Medical Examiner’s office is largely completed. The year-old recovery facility on Water St. in Brooklyn will be shut down. Skyler insisted in the memo, however, that the search is not over: "At no point in the near future would it be prudent to declare this search 'over.’” The project will now be conducted by an on-site mobile unit. Looking towards the future, Skyler believes: “With the considerable expertise of its top scientific and operations staff, the city is well prepared to continue this search.” Read more at the VOICES website.
Mass on Christmas Eve may be Last at Ground Zero
Outdoor midnight Mass on Christmas Eve at Ground Zero has been celebrated each year since the September 11 attacks. But this year may be the last time, according to the Daily News, as construction plans will prevent future celebrations. The Rev. Brian J. Jordan, a priest at St. Francis of Assisi Church, said he learned in October from Port Authority officials that he could no longer hold Mass on the site after this year. This year's Mass will be celebrated at Church and Liberty streets at 11:30pm on December 24. Read the the full story.
FEMA Urges Families to Gather Emergency Supplies Before Winter Storms
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is urging families to prepare for the worst this winter. By assembling a simple survival kit, families can better combat the bitter cold, severe storms, and unforeseen flooding that plague so many during this time of year. The contents of the recommended survival kit range from water and medical supplies to a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio, which can be purchased at most stores that carry electronic devices. For a complete list, visit the FEMA website.