All three of the candlelight vigils held last Sunday were a large success. More than 3,000 people showed up at Fort Tilden for the West End vigil. That event was attended by Senator Chuck Schumer, Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Borough President Claire Shulman, State Senator Malcolm Smith and City Council President Peter Vallone. It was a night of healing and of prayer. The most touching point of the night was a huge, spotlighted American Flag that hung from the extended ladder of Ladder Truck 137. After Giuliani made his speech, a number of people in the audience shouted, "How can you leave us?" A Moslem cleric, who spoke, demanding justice for those who were killed in the tragedy, got a loud round of applause from the audience. The most rousing speech came from Congressman Chuck Schumer, who sounded more like a hawk than the dove he usually represents. The East End vigil, held at the Far Rockaway fire house, hosted about 300 people. It was interesting that none of the prominent politicians from that area showed up for the moving event.
The walk to stop the violence and the terrorism to benefit the Thomas Kareen Johnson, Jr. Foundation, scheduled for Saturday, September 29, has been cancelled by order of the Mayor and the Police Commissioner of the mobilization plan that allows few police officers to be available for such events.
Those who have access to a computer and want to see some interesting (and, perhaps frightening things), should open up Microsoft Word and type in "NYC," and then highlight it and changed the font to "Webdings." That will give you a positive message. For a negative, and slightly chilling message, in Word, type in Q33NY (allegedly, the tail number of the first plane to hit the towers), highlight it, change it to at least 72 point and then change the font to "Wingdings." You can’t make this stuff up.
Speaking of the Web, if you cannot find an American Flag to place in the back window of your car, log onto the Website for politician Frank Padvan. His site is at www.frankpadvan.com. There, you will find a full-color flag that you can download and print on your color printer.
Those who have been trying to donate blood recently have found that their blood is not needed, at least right now because of the heavy volume of giving since September 11. According the New York Blood Center, blood is perishable and the supply now on hand will expire in about six weeks. Those who want to give blood should do so then, when blood will once again be badly needed.
It does not pay to fool around when you are trying to board an airliner, especially in the wake of the World Trade disaster. One young man, when asked if he had anything metal in his backpack, responded with "yes, I have a hand grenade in there." Another young man told another passenger (who wore a hospital logo on his shirt) that he was going to "blow up that hospital next). Both of those young men are now in custody and face up to four years in prison under a newly enacted state law.
The Boston Globe ran an excellent piece on Rockaway in the wake of the WTC attack. It highlighted a number of the Rockaway residents who were killed or who are missing. In many ways, it is easier to do that kind of story from a distance. It is difficult, for example, for The Wave to focus on one or two of the dead or missing when there are more than 75 people in those categories throughout the peninsula and they all deserve to have their stories told.
Many of the Rockaway Music and Arts Council members were made unhappy by the abrupt cancellation of their fall festival by the mayor and the police commissioner. According to police sources, all street festivals in the city were cancelled because of a lack of police officers to cover all of the street events scheduled between now and late October. The cops are obviously busy elsewhere. Many local residents, who look forward to the event each year, were disappointed by the cancellation.
It is hard to understand how the New York Mets can continue to honor the bravest and the finest by wearing baseball hats with the logos of the various organizations who performed above and beyond the call of duty while the New York Yankees seem to be acting as if they are above it all. The Yankees need to get down with the people if they are to retain their popularity. Right now, The Mets are the "team of the people."
The pile of flowers around the local fire houses and police stations grow daily, even two weeks after the World Trade Center disaster. We understand that the first flowers were dropped at the Beach 116 Street firehouse by Debbie McCabe, the office manager for a local pediatrician. Debbie and her husband, Don, who works for the city, have many friends who are firefighters, many of whom are still counted among the missing.