SEPTEMBER 11, 2011 10:43AM

The Quiet 9/11 Memorial

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Northerly Island. In Chicago. There used to be an airport here. Now it’s a park.


And the home of a quiet 9/11 Memorial. No marker. No press release. Rudy Giuliani never stopped by. If you didn’t know what to look for, you wouldn’t even see it.


3 trees. In the shadows of the Chicago Skyline. Just east of Burnham Harbor---named for the man who first envisioned this urban garden when it was all just a stinky swamp. 3 trees. An American Linden, Apple Serviceberry and an Eastern Redbud. One tree for each place the terrorists attacked.


This quiet memorial borne from the folks at Willow House. A Chicagoland grief-counseling center. 9/11 victim’s families who met in the years following the attack. Feeling the ripples of pain that cascaded out across the country on what was in Chicago a stunningly perfect blue sky morning. Right before it all happened.


The folks from Willow House planted trees. The great Chicago journalist Mark Konkol reported the story in this morning’s Chicago Sun Times.


A story of 3 trees. And grief. Quietly.


The reason there’s a place to plant those trees is that one dark night, in one of the more stunning displays of raw political power ever to grace the American landscape, Mayor Richard Daley sent bulldozers on to the runways of that airport and ripped them up for good.


Chicagoans were shocked but not surprised.


One of the many reasons he did it was so no planes would ever take off from the airport and fly into buildings.


So now there is a park. And a place for folks to go grieve.


A quiet place. To grieve.



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In many ways our nation is till grieving. I just wish we would direct that grief to making this world a better place to live and to love. Peace and love is what the world needs....and lots of prayers.
I recently saw an artist's rendition of what the NYC memorial at ground zero will look like, and I was struck by the large number of trees planned for the site. How appropriate to place living things where so much death happened.

I was not aware of this small Chicago memorial. Glad to know it's there.
Gorgeous. Thank you for this - a post of substance.
PK--That's for sure.
Steve--The living things seem right to me.
Princess--Thanks for coming by. I think the more people connect with each other today--the better.
Bravo, Mayor Daley, Bravo.

My own feelings about 9/11 are as conflicted as ever, today. And hearing George W. Bush's voice over the radio gave me a visceral reaction of "Ugh!"

I can't ever think of that day with pure grief. I'll always remember how "9/11" was used to manipulate and browbeat the nation into doing whatever GWB wanted. Which we know now was ****ing disastrous.

But for the living, there was more to be done besides sit in the shadow of this monstrous ordeal. We must regroup, and to do that takes powers of tender feeling for others. Nobody gets off scott free as long as even one of us is remembering why it happened in the first place.
A lie has been perpetrated, and in this decade of deceit, with our own causes dwindling while others pick at the bones of what's left, I think we have to be especially vigilant. Not angry so much as dignified, and not fancying ourselves in the driver's seat, but left outside the truck as it rumbles along, acquiring steam.
Patience comes hard after such a disaster.
In my own lifetime, we encountered so much fear as one people, and are now regretting that we have to tidy away each broken view to look for the truth.
The park you are sharing with us today is a beautiful reminder of how to rebuild after such painful events have forced us to grieve unexpectedly. It is just what it ought to have become. A poem to each grieving heart as we each recover........
Chicago Guy,

Thank you for posting this. It is a lovely place.
Excellent CG simplicity is its own beauty. Here in Baltimore ours has the a unique feature. It sits on the grounds of our World Trade Center. In the monument are four plaques, one for each plane. On September 11th the shadow of the building will line up with each plaque at the exact time of each plane crash.
A perfect read on a day when it is good to remember and good to know what positive changes followed. Planting trees and growing forward. Thanks so much for this.
Very interesting, I hadn't heard of this. A place of peace & life. Isn't that what we all need?
Roger: I've paid some attention to the various memorials around my neck of the woods and the best were the quietest.

Though I've never been to Ground Zero, I've had a chance to look with some attention at the memorial there (a tiny outfit a few miles from where I live fabricated what's called the parapet -- the bronze strip that outlines the buildings footprints and containes the names of all the victims, including the '93 bombing.) Nothing is ever simple in MYC, but I've been surprised at the lack of attention given the memorial itself. I think it's magnificent. It's quiet and simple and stark but not cold, a sort of tabula rosa for the people who will come to grieve and remember.

And it also relies for its power, as Procopius notes above and as you describe in your post, on the presence of life -- trees.
Melissa---There was a real frenzy when the Mayor did that. Personally? I liked it.

Poor Woman--Thank you for such a thoughtful comment!

Diary--Thanks for letting me know you were here. That's what keeps me doing this.

Barry---THAT is wonderful. I was hoping when I wrote this that people would share what's going on where they are that goes beyond the usual. So thank you.

P.M--Thank you.

JH---Yes. They don't get the attention cause they are quiet. But they are the best.
Hard to merge in my head such grace with a Daley. Appreciate your showing us this, Roger.
Matt--Good point.

Kate--Exactly. That's why he held office for over 20 years. That is the reason.
Beautifully written! As @Procopius said, I didn't realize there was a 9-11 memorial on Waverly.